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Union claims Verizon change will mean job losses

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Although Verizon Wireless promised no layoffs when it closes its Albuquerque call center next year, it is likely that many employees will lose their jobs because they will be unable to work from home or move to a call center in another state, according to the Communications Workers of America.

The union, in a statement Tuesday, estimated that closure of six centers nationwide will result in elimination of about 3,000 of the 6,500 current positions. About 1,000 employees work in Albuquerque, but the union did not say how many of those people likely would be unable to make the transition to a new workplace.

A Verizon spokeswoman, in response, said the company is offering employees the same pay and benefits “to work from the comfort of their own home through the Home Based Agent model.” She also said Verizon provides a stipend of $65 per month for internet access “and has put a number of resources in place to help employees through this transition.”

Verizon last month said no employees would be laid off when it closes the Albuquerque call center it opened at Central Avenue and Coors Boulevard in 2006.

“If this is not a layoff, as Verizon Wireless claims, all workers at the … affected centers should get to keep their jobs,” Dennis Trainor, a union vice president and chair of CWA’s Wireless Workers United, said in the statement. “If workers don’t qualify for home-based positions, Verizon should provide nearby office space and not force workers to relocate hundreds or thousands of miles away from their current jobs.”

The union said many would not be able to meet Verizon’s home-work requirements because “the new home-based jobs require workers to be able to work split shifts, weekends and holidays, have high-speed internet at home and an extra room with total quiet — conditions that many working families cannot meet.”

Verizon is expected to move its workforce out of the affected centers during the third quarter of 2019. The company statement said seven centers will be closed in Albuquerque, Franklin, Tenn.; Hilliard, Ohio; Huntsville, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Mankato, Minn., and North Charleston, S.C.

Verizon spokeswoman Jenny Weaver noted that the union does not represent workers in any of the targeted call centers.