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 user 2005-05-07 at 11:09:00 am Views: 54
  • #9208
    570 take Corvallis HP offer

    Nearly 2,000 employees have taken severance package in
    U.S. and Puerto Rico

    In its biggest work force reduction in years,
    Hewlett-Packard announced Tuesday that 570 Corvallis employees have accepted a
    voluntary severance package and will be leaving the company over the next
    several months.

    Some 1,905 employees in the United States and Puerto
    Rico decided to take the buyout offer, according to Monica Sarkar, HP’s director
    of corporate media relations. The company has not made public how many workers
    were offered the package or exactly what kinds of positions are being

    The job cuts are part of an effort to transform the
    company’s imaging and printing business, which has long been HP’s most
    profitable division. But Hewlett-Packard’s market dominance has faced increasing
    pressure from competing manufacturers and low-cost ink cartridge

    Management told employees in January that the company wanted
    to phase out some jobs in the division while adding others, and the buyout was
    offered as a way of reaching job-cut targets without resorting to

    The offers went out in early April, and employees had until
    April 22 to make their decision. Those who opted to take the buyout will remain
    on the job until anywhere from May 31 to Oct. 31, depending on the particular
    projects they’re working on, and the company is providing outplacement
    assistance, financial counseling and other help during the

    The severance package provides half a month’s base pay for
    each year of service with the company, plus two months’ base pay. The minimum
    payout is five months’ base pay, with a maximum of 14 months’ pay.

    Sarkar characterized the number of employees taking severance locally as “a
    positive response” to the offer, she didn’t rule out the possibility of
    additional layoffs. It’s also possible the company would add some jobs in
    imaging and printing locally, but Sarkar said that wasn’t likely to happen in
    the short term.

    “That’s something we’re going to have to see. We’re in
    the process of balancing (the work force),” Sarkar said from the company’s
    headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. “I think what you’ll see is additional
    adjustments, potentially additional reductions, depending on the business and
    competitive climate.”

    Hewlett-Packard engineers invented inkjet printing
    technology in Corvallis, which fueled rapid growth here through the mid-1990s.
    But headcount peaked at 6,000 in 1996 and has been shrinking ever since. Today
    the company employs a little less than 4,000 people at its sprawling Corvallis
    campus, with the vast majority focused on inkjet or some other aspect of imaging
    and printing.

    While expressing the hope that employment at HP would
    bounce back over time, Mayor Helen Berg acknowledged the cutbacks would have
    wide-ranging repercussions, both economic and otherwise.

    “This will be
    felt in all sectors of the community,” Berg said. “It’s going to be felt in
    retail, in the educational system, in all the businesses that provide

    And because HP’s employee base extends well beyond Corvallis,
    she noted, the ripples will likely be felt all across the

    “This will have an impact in Albany, in Lebanon and all
    over,” she said.

    “Philomath, it’s going to be huge there,

    “Losing that many jobs is going to hurt,” agreed Mysty Rusk,
    president and CEO of the Corvallis-Benton County Economic Development
    Partnership. But she added that even though the local economy can’t absorb
    nearly 600 unemployed workers, there are some tech-sector jobs

    “We’ve got a number of small local companies that are in
    situations that they could grow,” she said. “They’re seeing this as a real
    opportunity to get some amazing talent.”

    And Corvallis has a long history
    of nurturing startup ventures by HP veterans. Rusk said the EDP is scrambling to
    put together a package of resources for entrepreneurial Hewlett-Packard
    employees who might want to launch their own companies.

    “We are going to
    do our very best to start as many businesses as we can out of this,” she said.
    “This is an opportunity for us.”