CHESTER, Conn. — Some Whelen Engineering employees woke up to life-altering news Friday morning when they received a packet revealing that their “position will be eliminated” and that their last day of work is July 10, according to documents received by the Eagle Times and a press release issued by the company.
In an official statement, the company said that it has eliminated 246 jobs at its Charlestown, N.H., and Chester, Conn., facilities as a result of the “economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.” Of these 246 positions, 148 of them are at the Charlestown, N.H., facility while the remaining 98 are at the Chester, Conn., facility. This accounts for a 15% reduction in the number of workers employed at the Charlestown, N.H., facility and a 16.8% reduction in the number of workers employed at the Chester, Conn., facility.
According to a longtime employee with Whelen Engineering’s Chester, Conn., facility, the decision caught everyone off guard.
“There was no warning. It came out of the blue,” the employee said. “The way that this was done was severely unprofessional.”
The employee detailed that on Thursday at 2 p.m. staff at the Chester, Conn., facility were welcomed to a televised address made by the President and CEO George W. Whelen V in which he announced the cutbacks. The announcement was then proceeded by members of the Human Resources escorting the workers out of the building.
In the statement to all employees on Thursday, Whelen V said that “COVID-19 has created significant financial constraints” and that “has resulted in a reduction in our product demand.”
“To preserve our ability to rebuild when this recession is over, we have been forced to make the difficult but unavoidable decision to reduce our workforce,” Whelen V continued.
According to numerous employees, they are not allowed back on the property and their badges, which are necessary to access the building, no longer work.
The employee encourages fellow staff members to band together and assist one another in finding other employment amid the pandemic.
“I want to make this negative into a positive,” the employee said. “If I can help other people succeed, then I will. We all need to be together.”
Employees who were laid off will receive severance pay and the opportunity to attend additional counseling through Whelen’s Employee Assistance Program that will last through the duration of each worker’s severance period. The company has also contracted with Lee Hecht Harrison, a talent development and transition company based in Maitland, Fla., to provide career transition assistance.