IBM Layoffs Pushed A Day, CEO Ginni Rometty Wants Attention On Speech In Spain

IBM layoffs are expected to begin in earnest tomorrow, February 27, sending as many as 15,000 workers into the street, as they try to rebuild their lives and find new work in an economy where according a report earlier this month, there are still only enough job openings for less that 40 percent of job seekers now out of work.

While IBM is remaining tight-lipped about when and where the layoffs — which it is characterizing at “workforce rebalancing” — will hit, there were reports that layoffs scheduled for Wednesday were pushed back a day at the venerable technology giant’s plant in Essex Junction, Vermont, and in New York state as well. An IBM facility in Hudson Valley, New York, employs 7,000 people and last year, Big Blue shaved 700 workers from the staff there.

Last summer, IBM slapped Vermont workers with 419 layoffs.

IBM management has a code name for the new round of potentially massive layoffs: “Project Apollo.” It follows “Project Mercury” and “Project Phoenix,” the two prior rounds of IBM layoffs.

Workers at the Hudson Valley IBM plant, and at a facility in Albany, reported that a series of 15-minute meetings had been set up with individual staff members for Wednesday. The expectation was that at those meetings, each worker would be given the bad news that he or she was suddenly unemployed.

But those meetings were scratched and rescheduled for Thursday.

IBM’s $16 million per year CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, who has presided over seven consecutive quarterly earnings drops in the two years she has run the company, was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

“Speculation is that Rometty is giving a speech today and didn’t want job cuts to overshadow it,” said Lee Conrad of the IBM employee organization Alliance@IBM.

Rometty in January announced that she would forego her bonus this year, targeted at $4 million, because of the steadily falling IBM revenue totals.

At an IBM facility in Rochester, Minnesota, that employs about 2,700, workers were bracing for layoffs — but they have no idea when, or if, they would be coming — or how bad they would be if IBM does swing the layoff axe there.

The only domestic IBM plant where job cuts were confirmed Wednesday was in Tucson, Arizona. Reports of IBM layoffs were also coming in from overseas, with 1,200 workers cut throughout Europe and India. IBM employs about 400,000 people around the globe.