August 27, 2008
Hewlett-Packard to Lay Off 17 Workers
By COURTNEY SHERWOOD
Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to lay off 17 Vancouver employees, effective mid-October, company officials told the Washington Employment Security Department this week.
The news likely comes as relief to HP's more than 1,000 local employees, who design, engineer and market inkjet printers and have been hearing rumors for months about much deeper cuts.
Workers at a sister site in Corvallis, Ore., received layoff notices last week, and HP officials said that as many as 300 manufacturing jobs could be eliminated there. And at a related site in Boise, Idaho, at least 30 workers have been laid off, and many more - possibly hundreds - received layoff notices Monday, according to the Idaho Statesman newspaper.
"Effective Oct. 17, 17 people will be laid off," said Sheryl Hutchison, communications director at the Employment Security Department.
"They will be paid full time and work half-time starting Sept. 12," Hutchison said. "They can use the other half of the time to look for work."
Vancouver may have been spared worse cuts because of the nature of the work here and because the site has already reduced staff significantly in recent years.
The layoffs in Corvallis and Boise appear to affect primarily manufacturing workers. Printer manufacturing in Vancouver was discontinued in 1998, when HP let 1,200 workers go.
At its peak, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech firm employed more than 3,300 people on its 174-acre campus at 18110 S.E. 34th St. By 2005, the last time HP confirmed local employment figures, about 1,800 people worked at the site.
Those familiar with the company say staffing is likely closer to 1,300 now, and possibly even lower.
"As far as I know, there were not a lot of layoffs," said a former engineer who left about a year ago. "But they weren't replacing people. When one person transferred to another division outside of this HP office, the company would not replace the person."
HP issued a statement earlier this month that it plans to maintain a strong presence in Vancouver, despite staff reductions and an effort to sell its local real estate and buildings.
But in a conference call with investors on Aug. 19, Mark Hurd, HP's chief executive officer, said there would be cuts to underperforming segments of the company's Imaging and Printing Division. Sales of the kinds of printers designed in Vancouver are lagging, and the company is investing more to instead develop and sell large ink presses with higher profit margins.
HP officials declined to comment on how these plans would affect Vancouver operations.
Hewlett-Packard Co. told employees in Corvallis, Ore., that it would cut as many as 300 jobs there, but did not say how it would affect related operations in Vancouver.
HP plans to lay off 17 Vancouver employees, the company told state officials this week.
The layoffs are effective Oct. 17.
Courtney Sherwood covers Hewlett-Packard. Reach her at 360-735- 4553 or
Originally published by COURTNEY SHERWOOD Columbian staff writer.
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