by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine National Life Group reduced its work force this week to respond to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montpelier-based insurer announced the layoffs today.
The reductions affected both of National Life’s primary offices, in Montpelier and Addison, Texas.
A total of 95 jobs were affected, 53 in Vermont, 30 in Texas, and 12 in other remote locations. National Life’s total employment company-wide stood at 1,400 before the reductions. The company will offer severance pay, as well as reimbursement for health, dental, and vision coverage, to impacted employees.
Mehran Assadi, Chairman, CEO and President of National Life
“Our departing employees have each played a meaningful role at National Life and the painful need to address current realities does not diminish their contributions,” said Mehran Assadi, Chairman, CEO and President of National Life. “I thank each one for their service to the Company.”
Assadi said that National Life does not anticipate any further job reductions.
“While it is impossible to predict the course of this virus or the extent of the economic recession, I know that we – National Life – will emerge from this crisis even stronger,” he said in a message to employees. “The grit, determination and resiliency that you demonstrated as we transformed overnight into a virtual company will carry us into an even brighter future.”
National Life headquarters in Montpelier. Courtesy photos.
National Life’s employees have been working remotely, with the exception of a few dozen essential workers who continue to report to the office, since mid-March.
A phased return to the office is currently planned and the company has stated it will not return before July 20.
At his Wednesday press briefing, Governor Phil Scott was asked whether this layoff and other recent ones, such as at Northfield sock maker Darn Tough, reflects a second-wave of economic impact from the pandemic.
The governor said, no, “This is isn’t a second wave, this is THE wave.”
Scott said that there will be a long way to go, perhaps years, before Vermont and the nation recovers from the COVID crisis.
He has frequently said that not all businesses will make it through the downturn.
He went on to say, as he also often has, that it was crucial for the Legislature to pass his entire $400 million stimulus package.
The first phase of that is $310 million. The Legislature has passed a $93 million package and is working on a second $121 million package. Along with housing money, the two legislative plans would result in $191 million for economic development and $91 million to address housing and homelessness.
Scott's plan and the legislative plans would divvy up the money somewhat differently, but much of it in either case would go straight to small businesses most impacted by the economic crisis.
As for Darn Tough, they announced on Facebook earlier this week that they are laying off nearly 50 workers.
Here is their statement posted on Monday: “One of the best things about working at Darn Tough – we are manufacturing. It keeps things real. We’re not a public company, we don’t answer to shareholders – we answer to each other. Not sure if one is easier than the other, we just know our way.
"One of the hardest things about working at Darn Tough – we are manufacturing. Mandatory shutdowns, layoffs, and things we can’t predict. Today we had to let go of just under 50 people. A few months ago we couldn’t grow fast enough. There are larger problems in the world, and we get that. It’s always about people though, and compassion.”
About National Life
National Life Group is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, founded in Montpelier, Vt., in 1848, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, Texas, chartered in 1955, and their affiliates. Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.
Source: Montpelier, Vermont – National Life Group 6.24.2020 NationalLife.com