Layoffs are ‘one more broken promise’
Is it a surprise that Motorola Mobility will cut its workforce when it moves?
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:00PM
Hundreds of employees at Motorola Mobility’s facility in Libertyville will likely lose their jobs when the company moves its corporate headquarters to Chicago.
“My comment about Motorola is it’s just one more broken promise from them,” said Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler. “It’s going to be tough on our residents and all of those people that will lose their jobs.”
Motorola Mobility announced it would bring just 2,250 jobs when it moves its headquarters from Libertyville to Merchandise Mart in Chicago, not the 3,000 jobs previously announced, as a result of Google’s announcement on Monday that it plans to cut 4,000 jobs worldwide in its wireless phone business.
That means many Motorola employees from Libertyville will not be transferred to the Chicago facility as first thought but instead would lose their jobs in a reduction in force.
The exact number of employees that would be impacted is still unclear. But Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman received a letter from Susan Waldman, vice president of human resources for Motorola Mobility, which indicated approximately 659 employees of the Libertyville facility would be impacted by the workforce reduction.
Waldman also indicated in the letter to Stolman that the affected employees will not be able to displace other Motorola Mobility employees but the employees will have access to postings of available positions via the company’s job posting system and the company would provide career transition services.
“Consequently, it is possible that the number of employees actually separated may be smaller than noted above because of alternative employment opportunities with Motorola Mobility,” the letter stated.
Stolman said he first heard from a Motorola company official on Sunday night that Google would be making an announcement about a staff reduction on Monday. He said the company initially indicated to him that between 600 and 650 employees from Libertyville would likely be impacted. In Waldman’s e-mail on Monday, he was told the 659 figure.
Stolman said he was told by a company official Sunday night that affected employees would likely be given 60-days notice of the layoffs but in the e-mail he received Monday indicated some of the staff reductions could occur on or about Aug. 31.
Weppler said the Motorola company official he talked to did not give an indication of when the potential layoffs would occur but he got the impression it was likely “imminent.”
Stolman admits he’s somewhat confused by the company’s recent actions. He said when it was first announced Motorola Mobility was moving to Chicago in July, the company indicated the attrition would occur over a period of time, probably several months.
“A year ago, we were told all the jobs were going to be retained in Libertyville,” he said. “It’s a shame.”
Weppler admits he, too, is puzzled. “A couple weeks ago, they were moving all the employees to Chicago. Now, they’re letting employees go,” he said.
In spring of 2011, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn visited the Libertyville facility on Peterson Road to announce a $100 million statewide tax incentive package designed to keep jobs in Libertyville. However, speculation about a potential move of the company has existed ever since Google acquired Motorola Mobility earlier this year.
It’s unclear how Google’s proposed force reduction may impact the company’s state incentive package because the agreement is contingent on Motorola Mobility retaining a workforce of 2,500 in Illinois.
In its announcement Monday, Google said it will close or consolidate about one-third of its 90 locations.
The reductions represent 20 percent of Motorola Mobility’s 20,000 employees and 7 percent of Google’s overall workforce. Two-thirds of the job cuts will take place outside the United States, Google said.
Sun-Times staff writer Fran Spielman contributed to this report