GMP’s broken promise
I’d like to take this opportunity to respond to Kerry O’Hara’s recent letter titled “Ex-CV workers get short end,” and provide additional context regarding this ominous situation.
Let me first preface this op-ed by stating that I have nothing to gain by writing this piece, but rather have quite a bit to lose.
However, I feel an ethical responsibility to Rutland and its people to educate the public and bring further attention to this issue in hopes that it may help protect former CVPS employees now employed by GMP, as well as help safeguard the future economy of the Rutland region.
My name is Chris Adams, and I am a Rutland native, born and raised. I am proud to be from Rutland and hate to see our great city end up on the short end of the stick.
I am also a former employee of CVPS and, following the merger, was an employee of GMP for about six months. As many in Rutland know, I worked for CVPS for over three years as a full-time, temporary employee.
So while hundreds of Rutland-based GMP employees are currently unable to speak up about GMP’s broken promises and sly restructuring tactics out of fear for their own job security, I have the ability, and moral responsibility, to do so.
First and foremost, one of the fundamental merger guarantees agreed to by GMP in Vermont Public Service Board Docket 7770 (“the merger docket”) has not been met.
Nearly a dozen times in the docket GMP committed to not making any layoffs as a result of the merger, with the exception of executive officers. GMP committed to achieving future employee-related cost savings through natural retirements and turnover only.
Time and again Mary Powell and GMP promised Rutland that there would be no layoffs at all of employees other than executive officers. Period.
However, in September 2012, over two dozen regular part-time employees and full-time temporary employees were let go (“temps” were regular employees not receiving benefits). Several of these folks had been with CVPS for many years, relied on their jobs, and were active, contributing members of the local community and economy. They were among the first victims of GMP’s false promises.
Around Christmas of 2012, another cut was made involving similar employees. This time the cut hit home for me. I was let go by GMP and even provided signed termination documents that clearly state that my position had been eliminated due to the merger of CVPS and GMP. No severance pay, no help in securing new employment. Nothing but a swift kick out the door.
While one might argue the protection of part-time or temporary employees with this deal, the bottom line is GMP broke its promise. Regardless of whether a person worked four hours or 40 hours a week, received benefits or didn’t, GMP still committed layoffs of former CVPS employees other than executive officers.
GMP could have just been up front and honest about their true plans prior to the merger, but that would certainly have jeopardized support for the deal.
Furthermore, numerous employees were stripped of their positions post-merger and demoted to less desirable jobs, thus being forced to seek employment elsewhere.
And now, as Mr. O’Hara points out, GMP is quickly growing an Enterprise Resource Team with dozens of ex-CVPS employees who have been taken out of their previous positions and not given new job titles. Eventually, the ERT will become too large for the company’s needs.
GMP will argue these folks are simply shared resources for company projects. However, come next July, two years out from the merger, the company will then be able to review and change job descriptions, benefit packages and position benchmarking.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what might happen at that time to the salaries or job security of employees. While I hope for the best for these people, I fear the worst.
Although GMP’s news-making renewable energy initiatives and community events are groovy and admirable, let’s not lose sight of what’s really at stake here. Jobs.
As GMP struggles more and more to realize its promised merger savings, you can bet employees’ futures will be on the line.
Rutland simply cannot afford to lose any more than it already has, and it’s about time those in power start holding GMP’s feet to the fire.
The Department of Public Service, city of Rutland, Downtown Rutland Partnership, Rutland Economic Development Corp. and all others who have enjoyed direct, instant benefits from this deal politically or financially should take a step back, ask tough questions and re-evaluate GMP’s long-term impacts on Rutland.
Very few key people have truly put the big-picture interests of the Rutland community before themselves with this merger. I can sleep well at night knowing that by writing this, I’ve done just that.
Chris Adams is a resident of Rutland.