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Debate Over Release of IBM Layoff Numbers


Vermont officials are urging IBM to release the number of layoffs at its plant in Essex Junction, but the company claims state law allows the information to remain confidential.

Vermont law requires any company that lays off more than 25 workers to inform the Vermont Department of Labor. IBM did file notice of a mass separation at its Essex Junction plant, and the Labor Department followed up with a request for more detailed information on affected employees.  IBM provided that information to the state. But the company, which has a policy of not releasing layoff totals, asked that information remain confidential according to Vermont Commissioner of Labor Annie Noonan.t

IBM claims releasing the numbers could cause it competitive harm. Alliance@IBM is an IBM employee organization and labor organizing group. Vice President Earl Mongeon says when he saw the headline that IBM wants to keep the information confidential, he reacted with instant anger.

Labor Commissioner Noonan says any personal information on the laid off employees would remain confidential, but it is important that the numbers of layoffs be made public.

Calls to IBM were not returned in time for this broadcast. Noonan has given the company until noon on Thursday to provide any legal justification for the information to remain confidential. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says if state lawyers conclude the Vermont Public Records Act requires release of the information, his administration will do so over IBM’s objections.

In June, IBM layoffs in East Fishkill and Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County reportedly numbered nearly 700. Those numbers were provided by Alliance@ IBM.

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