Early retirements thin ranks at HP in Corvallis

CORVALLIS — An estimated 150 to 300 Hewlett-Packard workers in Corvallis have accepted early retirement packages and will leave the company by Thursday.

The Silicon Valley company declined to disclose exactly how many Corvallis workers took the incentive package designed to reduce payroll. The Gazette-Times newspaper arrived at the estimate after interviewing local financial planners, former Hewlett-Packard employees and others familiar with the company's Corvallis operations.

"Even for some people who work at HP it's difficult to get actual numbers, but that's the word I've heard from several different sources," said Matt Andresen, vice president of Turman Financial Group, who has met with a number of Hewlett-Packard workers coming out in the current wave of work-force reduction.

In a conference call with investors last week, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said about 3,000 workers had opted to take early retirement companywide.

The offer was limited to U.S. employees of Hewlett-Packard, and eligibility was determined by a point system based on age and length of service. The terms of the package appear to be similar to previous early retirement offers. It includes a severance payment of a half-month's base salary for each year of service, up to a maximum of 14 months' pay.

It also comes with full retiree medical benefits, an increasingly rare perk for U.S. workers.

"This is a pretty good package," said Megan Schneider, a former HP engineer who works as an adviser for Hurley Financial Group.

She said the buyouts don't seem to be targeting any particular department: "I'm seeing all slices, from technicians and operators all the way up to high-level management."

As recently as 1996, Hewlett-Packard employed about 6,000 people in Corvallis, where the company's inkjet printer technology was developed. After Thursday, the newspaper reported, Hewlett-Packard will probably have about 2,500 Corvallis employees.

Company spokesman Ed Woodward said Hewlett-Packard has about 156,000 workers worldwide.

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