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IBM trimming 136, adding 35 locally

Thursday, March 21, 2002

By Jim McKay, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

IBM has told 136 employees who work in computer software development at its Downtown office that they will lose their jobs this year as the company consolidates operations.

Layoffs are scheduled to begin May 20 at the IBM Pittsburgh Lab, in the former Westinghouse Building, the company told the state Department of Labor & Industry in a letter this week. Chris Maher, who runs the local IBM office, said the reductions were permanent.

Maher, whose official title is director, WebSphere Edge Server Development and IBM Pittsburgh Lab, declined to comment yesterday on the local reductions.

An IBM spokesman, John Reilly, said a third of the layoffs would be staggered between May 20 and the end of December, and that the cutbacks would be somewhat offset with the addition of 35 local customer service jobs.

Reilly said some of the work done in Pittsburgh would be moved to a huge IBM site in Raleigh, N.C., in the heart of North Carolina's renowned Research Triangle, a center for high-tech firms.

He said displaced Pittsburgh employees would be given the opportunity to seek a transfer there if their skills match the company's needs.

"This is part of our continuing efforts to rebalance and consolidate and eliminate duplication," he said.

"We're trying to consolidate our development activities at the larger sites for economies of scale."

The IBM Pittsburgh Lab was formerly known as Transarc Corp., which was formed in 1989 by a group of Carnegie Mellon University computer experts who sold the business to IBM in 1994.

Transarc, under the CMU founders and later under IBM, had a reputation as a bright and growing star among Pittsburgh's technology community.

Before the latest staff changes, which will pare its local payroll to about 500 at its Downtown and North Side offices, Transarc and IBM had been steadily adding people, pushing its employment here to 600.

IBM has hired outplacement firm Drake, Beam, Morin Inc. to assist employees who will be displaced, Reilly said.

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