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Verizon to lay off 257 call center employees

In better days, this file photo shows a full parking lot at the Verizon Call Center at 7000 Central Ave. S.W. in Albuquerque. VERTIZON HANDOUT PHOTO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Verizon Wireless will lay off 257 employees in May from its West Side call center, which the company is shutting down.

Verizon announced last February that it would close its Albuquerque operation, located since 2006 at a 197,000-square-foot facility at Central Avenue and Coors Boulevard. It’s one of seven call centers nationwide that Verizon planned to eliminate as pat of a broader transition to a “home-based agent” model where employees work from home.

The company filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, with the state on March 29 about the planned layoffs, scheduled for May 17, said Verizon spokesperson Jeannine Brew.

“There’s nothing new here,” Brew said in an email to the Journal. “This is the final step in the call center transition Verizon previously announced. It is a legal requirement to issue WARN notices 60 days prior to employees leaving payroll.”

The affected employees were offered the option to become a home-based agent, seek another job within Verizon, or accept a severance package, Brew said.

“Technically, these are not layoffs,” she said. “We presented the employees with those three options when we first announced closure of the call center.”

However, the Communications Workers of America, a union representing about 700,000 people, said many Verizon employees in Albuquerque and other call centers affected by shutdowns are unable to meet company requirements for working from home. That includes working split shifts, weekends and holidays, and having high-speed Internet at home with an extra room for total quiet. The union estimated last year that about 3,000 workers would be laid off from Verizon call centers targeted for closure.

“Only a fraction of affected employees are eligible to work from home,” CWA organizing coordinator Tim Dubnau told the Journal. “Some are in remote areas without high-speed Internet, and people who live with family members, a loud roommate, or a dog that barks might not pass the company’s on-site inspection for a quiet home.”

It’s unclear how many of the roughly 1,000 employees at Verizon’s West Side operations actually worked in the call center, nor how many have opted to work from home. People employed in other West Side operations will retain their jobs, but they’ll move to a new location when the company abandons the current facility, Brew said.

 

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