Verizon, Sprint shuffle management and call center jobs

call center
Verizon is moving some of its call center workers. (scyther5/iStockphoto)

Verizon and Sprint were each named in headlines this week detailing job cuts and management reshufflings. However, the details for each differ significantly.

First, the Communications Workers of America issued a press release this week claiming Verizon’s plans to close six call centers across the country will result in the elimination of about 3,000 customer service jobs. “Only half of the 6,500 positions currently at the affected call centers in Huntsville, Ala., Little Rock, Ark., Mankato, Minn., Albuquerque, N.M., Hilliard, Ohio and North Charleston, S.C. will remain,” the union association said.

“I’m really not sure where they got those numbers,” responded Verizon spokesperson Kim Ancin, noting that the Verizon employees under discussion are not represented by the CWA.

Ancin explained that in February, Verizon announced that its call center employees in the six locations are being moved to a home-based agent (HBA) model—meaning, they can keep their jobs but they must move out of the company’s call centers and into their own home or office. Ancin said Verizon is giving affected employees who don’t want to work from home the option to relocate to another Verizon call center or to apply for a different job at Verizon in the same location, and is giving employees two days of paid leave and $500 to visit other locations where they may want to relocate. She said Verizon expects the transition will continue throughout this year and next year.

Ancin declined to say how many employees Verizon expects to retain throughout the process, and also declined to categorize the action as a cost-cutting move. She noted that some of the affected locations will close, while others might move into a smaller office because they contain operations beyond call centers. She added that Verizon has been testing the HBA program for its call center employees for a few years, and the option has been available to all of its call center workers since September.

Importantly, Verizon has set a goal of cutting total corporate expenses by $10 billion by 2021, an action that will affect virtually all of the company’s operations.

Although Ancin declined to describe Verizon’s call center reshuffling as a job-cutting effort, Sprint is using that term to explain its own recent actions. As reported by the Kansas City Business Journal, Sprint is cutting 500 jobs from its Overland Park, Kan., headquarters.

The company didn't provide specifics to the publication, noting the layoffs will be completed in the next few weeks and the action will result in a smaller leadership team at Sprint. The company did say, though, that Sprint's front-line employees, including its retail and customer care workers, would not be affected.

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Amid the upheavals at Verizon and Sprint, AT&T has reported progress on its efforts to retrain its employees to take advantage of the transition from hardware-based telecom networks to those running primarily on software. Specifically, a recently published CNBC article noted more than half of AT&T’s employees have completed 2.7 million online courses in areas such as data science, cybersecurity, agile project management and computer science, the company said. AT&T added that 475 of its employees have enrolled in Georgia Tech's online master of science in computer science program, and nearly 80 have graduated.