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 user 2009-01-28 at 3:54:09 pm Views: 92
  • #21036
    HP cutting 150 to 200 jobs
    Layoffs, shift of work overseas call into question firm’s future in Vancouver
    Hewlett-Packard Co. is in the process of laying off at least 150 Vancouver workers, and possibly more than 200, as it scraps its local Edgeline printer team and shrinks other engineering groups.

    Coupled with HP’s effort to find a buyer for its 174-acre campus at 18110 S.E. 34th St, these moves call into question the company’s long-term plans in Vancouver.Once one of the engines of Clark County’s economy, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech firm employed more than 3,300 people in Vancouver at its peak in the late 1990s, and remains one of the top paying companies around. Many workers earn close to or more than $100,000 a year.But from 1,800 Vancouver workers in 2005, HP’s local staffing levels may be down to 650 at the end of this round of layoffs, according to a laid-off employee.These most recent cuts, verified through federal labor documents and interviews with affected workers, come on top of hundreds of layoffs of marketing and engineering employees over the past two years.

    HP “is shifting prototype testing, as well as some work on research designs, engineering specifications and drawings, abroad, including to Singapore,” according to U.S. Department of Labor documents. This inkjet lab move will affect at least 52 Vancouver employees, a labor official said.

    Similar work done by HP’s Vancouver-based Edgeline Development and Operations Group will also move overseas, according to other documents. This will affect at least 93 Vancouver employees, who work for HP and for 15 related contract staffing agencies, the Labor official said.The local cuts are actually much higher than the official figures, according to a contract worker who has been informed that he is losing his job. “Approximately 180 contract workers have been notified that their positions have been eliminated, most of them have already been dismissed,” he said.HP is also cutting 60 jobs at its sister site in Corvallis, Ore., according to federal Labor Department figures.HP officials declined to comment on the local and Oregon cuts, but did issue a written statement confirming that the company’s Imaging and Printing Division, which includes Vancouver, is shifting jobs amongst sites.“The realignment of IPG’s business entails shifting resources from slower growing businesses to new business opportunities,” the statement said. “In some cases, parts of IPG’s business will experience reductions while investments will be made in high growth segments of the business.”

    Pay contrasts
    Employees of HP are taking the news as a blow, especially following reports by the Reuters news agency that Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Mark Hurd received compensation of $42.5 million in 2008.“Nobody is worth $45.2 million for one year of employment,” said a laid-off worker, who said he was disgusted by Hurd’s high salary at a time when employees have seen pay frozen and jobs cut.On the bright side, many laid-off workers can receive extra unemployment benefits and assistance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program.This program covers expenses associated with the job search process, can help cover the cost of relocation, and will cover the cost of retraining for some employees. It also extends the length of time that laid-off workers can receive unemployment insurance payments to as many as 130 weeks, depending on individual circumstances.Many laid-off workers were briefed on these benefits at a Jan. 15 meeting with state Employment Security Department officials.

    Ripple effect
    As they head to the WorkSource Center instead of day jobs, a ripple effect is beginning to be felt around HP’s east Vancouver neighborhood, where the average household income is about $70,000.Fewer HP regulars have been showing up at Quiznos over the past month or two, said Heidi Grunau, a crew member at the sub shop a few blocks east of HP’s Vancouver.Grunau, who works the lunch shift Sunday through Friday at Quiznos, said the restaurant regularly serves workers from the nearby operations of tech companies HP, Sharp and WaferTech. Customers from HP have openly talked about layoffs taking place at the Vancouver campus for the past two months, she said.Three decades ago, HP and Tektronix were among the first large employers to build in a mostly rural east Vancouver, and seemed destined to be among the county’s largest employers.Tektronix pulled out in the mid-1980s, and HP began to shrink in 1999, when it eliminated printer manufacturing and laid off 1,000 workers.

    In their place, however, has grown a diverse east Clark County employment base. In addition to large high-tech companies like Sharp, WaferTech and SEH America, businesses large and small have filled the bustling Columbia Tech Center.Hewlett-Packard’s diminished clout in Clark County marks more than a shift for the community that grew around it. It also represents shifts in the history of the inkjet printer.Inkjets were first invented through a collaboration between HP engineers in Vancouver and Corvallis, and first manufactured in Clark County. But the competition has caught up, making consumer printers a cutthroat industry. People are buying fewer printers, printing less and buying less ink from HP.Vancouver workers have said they feel that HP’s growth plans center around computer programs and business support packages, and that there are fewer opportunities for inkjet printer engineers to advance within the company.Now HP seems to be shifting those development opportunities that do still exist abroad, far from where these products were first born.