After months marred by employees’ strikes last spring, Verizon Communications announced Thursday that it would be closing customer service in five states in an effort to consolidate its operations, Reuters reported.
The company, which purchased Yahoo Inc.’s internet properties for $4.83 billion in July, will offer employment at other call centers for the 3,200 affected workers, 1,000 of which are near Rancho Cordova, California, and 850 of which are near Rochester and Orangeburg, New York. Call centers in Bangor, Maine; Lincoln, Nebraska and Meriden, Connecticut were also closed down, according to Reuters.
At the end of May, the company negotiated the end of a six-and-a-half-week strike by 40,000 technicians and customer service specialists led by two unions, the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the New York Times reported. The deal resulted in a nearly 11 percent raise for the carrier’s workers and was considered a victory for the unions.
In addition to boosting its employees’ pay, the New York-based wireless company added 100 network technician jobs and 1,300 call center jobs to the East Coast. And while it limited post-retirement healthcare plans, the deal did not include formerly propose cuts to accident and disability benefits, or employees’ pensions.
Verizon’s share price climbed Monday morning from a low of just under $50—a level not seen since the end of its strikes in May, when share prices dipped below $44—to around $50.30 early Thursday afternoon.
The strikes and related pay raises and new call centers were related to the company’s wireline business, however, and are therefore not related to Thursday’s decision to close wireless centers—a separate company service—according to Verizon spokesperson Kim Ancin.
The decision was “part of a long-term effort” and “not made overnight,” Ancin told IBTimes.
While the call centers won’t officially close until January, many employees expressed frustration with the news that they would have to uproot their entire lives in order to keep their jobs.
"I'll probably end up relocating, as much as I don't want to,” Kenneth Goodman, one of 218 employees laid off at the center in Bangor, Maine, told his local TV station. “I love the state of Maine. This is the way life should be, and you just don't find that anywhere else.”
The day before Verizon’s announcement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, notified of the coming closures, condemned the move as “reckless” and a form of “corporate abuse.”
“Verizon Communications brags about being the nation’s biggest wireless carrier. It’s an extremely profitable company,” spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the consolidation was “corporate greed at its worst.”