National Life Insurance to out-source jobs

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(Host) The National Life insurance company in Montpelier has shifted more than 150 jobs to a separate information technology company. On Thursday, many of those workers were told if they’ll get to keep their jobs in Vermont. The move to out-source the work saves National Life about $20 million over five years. But some of the jobs will go to India, and National Life has come under increasing criticism for its decision.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) National Life is central Vermont’s largest private employer. It dominates the Montpelier skyline, and the local economy.

The company’s decision to outsource 150 information technology jobs has angered many workers. Some have set up an online discussion group, where they’ve complained about having to train their replacements from India.

Brian Vachon is a National Life spokesman. He says that employees learned on Thursday if they’ll stay on with the new information technology operation, which is run by the Keane company of Boston.

(Vachon) “A group has been told, about 35 or 38 people have been told that they are definitely part of the National Life engagement going forward.”

(Dillon) Keane will use some of the other workers elsewhere around the country, or at a new information technology center in Montpelier. But about 30 workers will be laid off. Vachon says some are training their own replacements.

(Vachon) “There’s about a dozen people from India here right now. The training is probably happening more from the folks who are going to stay here, but I think in some cases there are people who are sitting down with the consultants from India and saying, this is what I do.”

(Dillon) Congressman Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to stop companies from sending jobs overseas. He plans to hold a public hearing in Montpelier on the outsourcing issue at the end of the months.

Although National Life says the move will save $20 million, Sanders says the company also has to think about its employees. He says his message for National Life is the same that he’s delivered to other big companies.

(Sanders) “You cannot turn your backs on the people who made your companies profitable. You just can’t turn your backs on the workers who in some cases have worked there for decades. There has got to be loyalty to employees and to the United States of America.”

(Dillon) But Vachon at National Life says the company decided to split off the IT division precisely so it could keep its core business – and its jobs – in Vermont.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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