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Intel cuts 400 positions at RR plant

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Intel Corp. announced Friday that it is “redeploying” 400 of the 3,300 employees at its Rio Rancho chipmaking plant.

“Due to a shifting market, we are making some difficult business decisions,” company spokeswoman Natasha Martell Jackson said in an email. “Specifically, in New Mexico, we have notified employees of a phased process of redeploying up to 400 positions.”

The deployment will be a phased approach, she said. The first steps will be offering retirement packages to those who qualify and attempting to find positions for employees at other Intel locations.

“Intel recognizes that this is a difficult time for employees and our community,” Martell Jackson said. “Our employees are a valuable asset and we are working with them to offer the best options and opportunities available, including placements within other Intel sites as well as voluntary retirement and separation packages.”

In a phone interview Friday, Martell Jackson told the Observer she did not know how many positions are open at other Intel sites at this time and how many Intel employees qualify for retirement packages.

Those who want to leave voluntarily can also do so, she said.

“Once those three phases are done, if Intel still has positions and employees that need to be moved, if that target isn’t reached, then we move into redeployment.”

Redeployment means Intel will assist employees in finding another job, either at Intel or elsewhere, for up to two months. That assistance could be job training or another form of support, Martell Jackson said.

In the email, Martell Jackson said “Intel’s New Mexico site is a vital part of the company’s 300mm global manufacturing network and will continue to produce some of Intel’s most popular products on the market.

“We recognize and appreciate the work of the state and local government as well as the community to create a positive business environment in New Mexico,” Martell Jackson said. “And we will continue to pre-position our site for future opportunities.”

The move is caused by market factors and changes in the market for computer chips, she said in the phone interview, as consumers move from personal computers to hand-held devices and mobile phones. She acknowledged that the local plant hasn’t retooled to move to a smaller chip set in several years.

“Intel New Mexico is still very vital and very important to the company’s overall manufacturing network,” she said. “It’s still state of the art and we’re producing some of the most popular products on the market.”

When asked if Intel is phasing out the operation in New Mexico, she said “absolutely not.”

Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack said he believes Intel will stay in Rio Rancho.

“I never like to see people lose their jobs,” he said. “I do not believe that this is any kind of signal that it is leaving.”

On Thursday, Intel Corp. announced it would close its only chipmaking factory in Massachusetts.

The world’s leading chipmaker said it planned to shut down its Hudson plant by the end of next year, eliminating 700 jobs.

Intel’s research and development facility in that community, which employs 850 workers, will remain in operation. The Hudson factory, once used by Digital Equipment Corp. and acquired by Intel in 1998, uses technology four generations behind those produced at its more modern facilities, The Boston Globe reported.

“The facility and the site do not meet the requirements that we need,” Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.