On the heels of retail cutbacks, Verizon this week told employees it plans to close six wireless call centers and one telesales office in five states in a move that will impact some 3,200 employees.
Verizon spokeswoman Kim Ancin on Thursday said the carrier is planning to shutter call centers located in Rochester, N.Y., Rancho Cordova, Calif., Bangor, Maine, Wallingford and Meriden, Conn., and Lincoln, Neb., as well as a telesales center in Orangeburg, N.Y. starting early next year. The move will consolidate Verizon’s call center teams to 16 locations across the country, Ancin said.
According to Ancin, the move will affect around 3,200 employees.
Upon hearing news of the closures, N.Y Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office issued a statement calling the move “an egregious example of corporate abuse” that would cause New Yorkers to “lose their jobs.” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi added that the governor asked the New York Department of Labor to dispatch its Rapid Response team to help “reverse the impact of Verizon’s reckless decision.”
The Communications Workers of America, a union that represents a large number of Verizon employees, also issued a statement questioning the timing of the decision ahead of the coming holiday season. CWA president Chris Shelton also questioned why Verizon feels the need to cut call centers when it’s spending several billion dollars to acquire Internet company Yahoo.
However, Ancin said Verizon employees impacted by the closures have been given the option to relocate to one of the other call centers.
“We are not reducing positions,” Ancin said. “We are making it available to all eligible employees in those positions to relocate to one of our other call centers.”
According to Ancin, Verizon is offering employees two days of personal time and up to $500 in travel expenses to visit some of the 16 other call centers they might like to relocate to. Additionally, by staggering the closures through May 2017, Ancin said Verizon has given employees a “very long lead time” to consider their options.
The closures will begin with the Rochester, N.Y. and Rancho Cordova, Calif. locations in January 2017, Ancin said, and will be followed by the closures of the Lincoln, Neb., Bangor, Maine and Wallingford and Meriden, Conn. sites at the end of March 2017. The Orangeburg, N.Y. telesales center will close in May 2017, she said.
“We’ve given our employees ample time to think through their other choices and options so they can make the best decision for themselves,” Ancin said.
Employees who choose not to relocate and ultimately decide to leave the company will be given a severance package and assistance finding new positions elsewhere, Ancin said.
The move to consolidate its call centers comes on the heels of Verizon’s decision to streamline two of its retail positions into one new job.
On Monday, Ancin confirmed Verizon is combining two of its in-store positions – experience specialist and operations specialist – into a single role in its 1,700 retail locations across the country. As with its call center cuts, Ancin said Verizon was offering impacted employees the chance to apply for another position within the company.
Though Ancin said the number of stores did not necessarily equal the number of individuals cut, employees on Reddit and TheLayoff.com reported that several workers were cut in some retail locations. Verizon declined to provide a figure for the number of employees impacted by that change.
As of June 30, 2016, Verizon had 162,700 employees, down from 178,500 employees the year before. Approximately 9,300 Verizon employees in Florida, California and Texas left the company in the first half of this year when it closed its deal with Frontier Communications; the remaining 6,500 employees were lost through a combination of attrition through retirement and negotiations, Ancin said.