IBM starts layoffs; Tucson is affected

Local job losses not fully known; at least 65 at tech park are let go
2013-06-14T00:00:00Z IBM starts layoffs; Tucson is affectedStaff And Wire Reports Staff And Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star

Major global layoffs underway by IBM Corp. are reportedly hitting the company's Tucson operations, though the extent of the local cuts are unknown.

The layoffs, known as "resource actions," so far have affected at least 65 people in IBM's storage-systems development center at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park on the south side, according to a website that tracks such actions.

Big Blue ranks 35th among Southern Arizona's biggest employers, with an estimated 1,350 local employees at the start of 2013, according to the Star 200 survey of major employers.

IBM Corp. began cutting U.S. jobs Wednesday as part of a plan announced in April to spend $1 billion globally to trim its workforce, analysts say.

Some U.S. employees began to receive notifications of the cuts Tuesday night, according to Lee Conrad, a coordinator for Alliance@IBM, an employee group that closely tracks layoffs.

As of midday Thursday, the group had tracked more than 1,600 layoffs in the U.S. through messages from affected workers, some of whom shared documents detailing the cuts.

Several Tucson workers posted notices indicating they were laid off, including one who said 65 local workers in IBM's Systems and Technology Group were affected.

IBM, the world's largest provider of computer services, announced the job-cutting effort after releasing disappointing first-quarter results in April. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company posted profit of $3 a share in the period, missing the $3.05 predicted by analysts. IBM said at the time that the job reduction would be concentrated overseas and be mostly complete by the end of June.

Analysts estimate the company is cutting 6,000 to 8,000 jobs globally, based on the $1 billion cost figure. That would represent less than 2 percent of IBM's total workforce of about 434,000 as of Dec. 31.

IBM generally doesn't discuss layoffs or staffing levels.

"Change is constant in the technology industry, and transformation is an essential feature of our business model," IBM said, without giving specifics on the job cuts. "Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business. Given the competitive nature of our industry, we do not publicly discuss the details of staffing plans."

Though IBM is still a major employer in the region, in the 1980s more than 5,000 people worked in Tucson, developing and manufacturing tape and other storage products. IBM moved the manufacturing part of the operation to San Jose, Calif., in 1988, leaving design and development here.

The site employs many senior IBM senior engineers, and it is home to one of two IBM storage-system customer briefing centers in the Americas.

In June 2012, IBM said it was closing a customer call center in Tucson but refused to say how many workers were affected.

In 2011, IBM acquired i2 Holdings Ltd., a British analytical software company that employed about 100 people at an office in Tucson, but it is unclear how many from i2 were subsequently employed by IBM locally.

Star Assistant Business Editor David Wichner contributed to this report, as did Bloomberg News and The Associated Press. Contact Wichner at dwichner@azstarnet.com or 573-4181.

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