James Marshall Bassett

Because he has spent his whole career in security, laid off security supervisor James Marshall Bassett knows how to spot a problem in the making. So when the first wave of lawsuits involving the hormone replacement therapy drug Premarin hit its manufacturer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Bassett got worried.

"I just knew the company was going to start having problems," said Bassett, of Langhorne, who worked at Wyeth as a security supervisor from 2000 to last September, when he was laid off. 

James Bassett

Of course, he said, people have a right to sue when they have a legitimate claim, but sometimes plaintiffs just gang up on big companies. "I knew a lot of money was going to be paid up and that money would have to be recouped. When people sue a big corporation, they don't realize that it's the most lowly down person in the company who is going to pay" perhaps by losing a job.

Maybe it was Wyeth's Premarin problems that made it weak and vulnerable for takeover by Pfizer Inc. in January 2009, seven years after the first cases were filed. In any case, Bassett managed to hang on until September. When he joined Wyeth, he thought that working for the pharmaceutical industry would provide secure employment.  But that did not turn out to be the case. He survived one round of layoffs, but not the next.

Bassett has handled all types of security and also many kinds of security-related software, but he doesn't have a degree in the field. That's because he taught himself, using books from the library or bookstore, studying in between rounds on long shifts. "If you just sit there and do nothing, it's very boring," he said. "You have to keep yourself busy."

What worries him most about being unemployed is health insurance. His wife is disabled due to a car accident and they have temporary custody of their three-year-old grandchild. "I need to get benefits for them. I just found what that the price of what we would need would be $1,800 a month.

In his pharmaceutical job, Bassett had to monitor alarm systems related to Pfizer's animal laboratory in Princeton where conditions had to be perfectly controlled for research purposes. He also supervised a staff of officers charged with the same responsibility. Past jobs included management of loss prevention and inventory for three retail distribution centers covering more than 750,000 square feet.

Right now, in addition to looking for a job, Bassett is studying business management at Mercer County Community College. "You've got to keep your emotions up," he said.

Update: As of December, 2011, Bassett is working fulltime providing security at a private school, earning just over half his pre-layoff salary.

  • James Marshall Bassett
  • Hometown: Langhorne
  • Profession: Security supervisor
  • Experience: Supervised daily security operations at a pharmaceutical research facility. Performed basic to advance programming on various kinds of security software. Trained employees. Supervised security officers, inventory control clerks. Apprehended, detained and questioned suspects.
  • Education: Mercer County Community College - business management coursework. I.T.T. Technical Institute - computer networking coursework.
  • E-mail address: jamesbassett130@yahoo.com
  • Linkedin profile.
  • James Bassett's resume.

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The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.