GlobalFoundries Cutting Workforce With Early Retirement
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Posted by: Jeff Couture
Source: Burlington Free Press
GlobalFoundries is offering early retirement to longtime employees in all three of its U.S. semiconductor manufacturing plants, including Essex Junction, blaming a fickle chip market for the reduction in workforce.
"We go through these ebbs and flows," Spokesman Jim Keller said Wednesday. "Right now we're at a point where some customers delayed their orders. We're in a period where we don't have as much business."
Keller said the chip business is a "dynamic industry" that changes quickly, and that the long-term market looks "pretty good."
The Essex Junction fab employs about 2,800 people. Keller declined to say how many jobs GlobalFoundries is looking to cut at the facility.
He said all three fabs — the other two are in New York in East Fishkill and Malta — have targeted reductions to make. GlobalFoundries believes it can reach those targets through early retirements and other cuts in expenses, according to Keller.
Keller did not rule out layoffs, however.
"Obviously, that is a last resort," he said.
The voluntary retirement program is focusing on support roles in sales, administration, information technology and finance. In the New York plants, operators on the fab floor are also being offered early retirement, but Keller said operators are not being targeted in Essex Junction.
Engineers and maintenance technicians are also exempt from the early retirement offers in all three fabs.
In February, GlobalFoundries announced it was looking to hire 200 people in Essex Junction to fill roles in production, manufacturing, information technology and engineering.
On Wednesday, Keller said that only a "small portion" of those jobs have been filled, but that those positions are not in jeopardy as a result of the current effort to encourage early retirements.
GlobalFoundries acquired the Essex Junction fab from IBM in July 2015. In a deal that left many people scratching their heads, GlobalFoundries received a payment of $1.5 billion from IBM to take over the fab, which had been losing money. As part of the deal, GlobalFoundries agreed to be IBM's exclusive provider of semiconductor chips through 2025.
Owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, GlobalFoundries has invested $72 million in the Essex Junction fab in the nearly two years it has owned the facility.