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As GlobalFoundries warns of pending job cuts, employees express frustration

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By the end of September, things were looking up for GlobalFoundries as it closed out the quarter with a 22% gain in revenues over the previous year. In October, the company received more good news. At a press conference outside its massive plant in Essex Junction attended by US Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the company announced $30 million in federal funding to develop advanced chips. Ten days later, it received state approval to form its own public utility to save on electricity costs.

Then, less than two weeks ago, a sudden lurch in market forces resulted in the global company announcing to its roughly 14,000 employees that layoffs were in the making.

The volatility of the market, and GlobalFoundries’ unexpected announcement, has Vermont employees of the chipmaker wondering if their jobs are on the line. The uncertainty comes as soaring interest rates appear to be impacting the labor market. Last week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a slight increase in Vermont’s unemployment rate in October, from 2.1% to 2.3%. It marked the first increase since January 2021.

GlobalFoundries’ chief executive officer, Thomas Caulfield, said in a video distributed to employees on Nov. 11 that the company would provide a more complete and comprehensive plan in a company-wide online meeting at the end of the month. Two employees have told VTDigger that the meeting is scheduled for Dec. 1.

Employees received the video just days after Caulfield, in a call with Wall Street analysts, touted the company’s stellar performance in the third quarter. In that call, he also warned that the company would have to start cutting costs as demand for semiconductors slowed.

The mixed messages were not lost on the company’s workers in Vermont.

“My coworkers and I are frustrated and annoyed that the company has been bragging about profits for the last two years, and at the first downturn has to slash jobs,” said one employee of the Essex Junction plant.

That employee and one other spoke to VTDigger on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution for speaking about their employer.

“Can none of those massive profits be used as a bridge to keep knowledgeable employees on the payroll?” the first employee asked. “It seems like an incredibly shortsighted decision and feels insulting after so much talk of big money.”

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