NEW YORK, DEC. 15 -- Carlos Pastor stepped from the E.F. Hutton Group Inc. headquarters building into today's bone-chilling rain with his hands jammed into his pockets and his shoulders hunched up. The wind gusted. It was a lousy day to lose a job.
"Redundant, redundant, redundant," he chanted. "You couldn't believe what they're saying."
Six months ago, Pastor graduated from college and came to work at Hutton as a support clerk in the investment firm's block trading department. He thought that he was about to begin a long and secure career. But by the end of today, he expected to be out of work -- along with all but three of the approximately 60 stock traders in his department.
"I never expected this to happen. Right now, it's just confusing," Pastor said. "We're getting shafted. We're definitely getting shafted. ... They're all pretty ticked off up there."
Pastor is one of an estimated 5,000 Hutton employes expected to lose their jobs by early next year because of the firm's merger with Shearson Lehman Bros. Ending 83 years of independence, Hutton sought the Shearson merger because of problems stemming from its past legal difficulties and the October stock market collapse.
Hundreds of employes were notified of their fate today. Whole departments, such as the Hutton block trading department, were virtually wiped out by layoffs, employes said. The firings were heaviest in the investment banking area, including corporate finance, mergers and institutional sales and trading, the employes said.
A phalanx of security guards patrolled the halls of Hutton's mid-Manhattan headquarters this afternoon and inspected packages carried by employes who had been asked to leave.
The scene at Hutton is likely to be repeated all across Wall Street in the coming months. Nearly every major investment firm has said that it intends to trim employment in response to the recent changes in the financial markets.
In Baltimore, regional brokerage Alex. Brown Inc. on Monday announced the layoff of 60 of its 1,700 employes, attributing the cuts to fallout from the stock market plunge.
While many Hutton employes have not yet been given notice about whether they will be let go, most sounded skeptical today. "People are kind of holding on by their fingernails," said one professional in the capital markets area, who asked not to be identified.
"It's a tough time for it to happen with Christmas and all," said Curt Yeo, an employe in the stock research department who had been with Hutton two years before being laid off today. "Everybody's got bills to pay. ... Some people are upset. They're angry."
Two well-dressed institutional brokers, who asked not to be identified, stopped in front of the headquarters on their way back from lunch to complain that Hutton was attempting to renegotiate their lucrative employment contracts after asking them to leave.
"They're going to try to wear us down," one said. "They're not going to pay us anything. When you have that size of salary, you also have sizable expenditures. Where are we going to go? This industry stinks."
While declining to disclose his salary and commission earnings, the broker acknowledged that he had made a great deal of money during the bull market and that he was now curtailing his expectations. "You could be an idiot and make money in that market," he said. "That's over."