Rutland Herald
January 28, 1982

Vermont Marble Lays Off 45 Workers Temporarily

By Tom Mitchell

Proctor – A layoff of 45 employees in the finishing plant at Vermont Marble Co. here, scheduled to begin at the end of the week, could last two to four weeks.

Vermont Marble Vice President and General Counsel Edward V. Schweibert said Wednesday that cold weather has resulted in a delay in the receipt of specifications by the company on two ongoing marble veneer projects.

The temporary layoff affects more than half of more than 70 employees in the Proctor plant which does the fabricating of marble for building veneers

Schweibert said the layoff will last until the cold weather breaks at two construction sites in Boston, Mass., and Indianapolis, Indiana.

"I don’t understand the way they’re doing it," marble polisher Robert Sherwin of Rutland said Wednesday. He said the people with more seniority are among the people being laid off first.

One of the marble polisher’s fellow workers in the headstone department has worked for the company for the past 35 years and has never drawn unemployment, Sherwin said.

Sherwin said it is the first time he has been laid off by the company in 23 years.

Twelve people were permanently laid off by the marble division of the company about eight months ago.

The company, which has two corporate affiliates, also has operations in Florence, Chester and Danby, where a temporary layoff was experienced at the company’s quarrying plant about two years ago.

When asked if he anticipated any additional layoffs of the approximately 225 people employed by the Vermont Marble Co., Schwiebert said, "Not that I am aware of."

Vermont Marble is Proctor’s only industry and largest employer. An affiliate of the company, Callahan Ams, Operates a metal working plant in the town.

"It’s the first time in 26 years I’ve been laid off," said Vermont Marble employee Steven Leach of Rutland. A meeting of company officials with employees is scheduled for Thursday when details of the layoff will be discussed, Leach said.

Some of the employees will be laid off on Friday and others will be let go on Monday, Schwiebert said.

Vermont Marble Co. was purchased in 1976 from the Proctor family by Pluess-Staufer, a Swiss firm. From 1976 to 1978, a total of 75 workers hav ebeen laid off.

Schwiebert said he didn’t consider the layoff unusual.

In 1978, 29 workers and some managers were laid off as a result of cuts in the marble division.

When the weather warms up and work can resume on the building projects, the 45 employes will be called back, Schwiebert said.

"We don’t have work for them now," he said, explaining that measurements for two buildings have been held up as a result of the cold and windy weather.

One of the projects involves the replacement of "failed" Italian marble for facing on 64 columns at a multi-story office building in Indianapolis, Indiana. The project has called for replacement with Vermont marble.

The "wind chill" factor has played a big part in delaying contractors’ measurements of columns on scaffolding at this project where extreme sub-zero temperatures have been evident in recent weeks.

While all company operations are under constant efficiency review during the current economic recession, next week’s layoff is not related to the current recession, Schweibert said Wednesday.

In Rutland, more than 100 people will lose their jobs when Howe Richardson Scale Co. closes in March.

Two other corporate entities, which are Vermont Marble Co. affiliates together employ 225 people in addition to the 225 in Proctor. OMYA Inc. in Florence is the grinding division and Callahan Ams, a machine shop in Proctor, manufactures can-making machinery.