Hundreds of metro AT&T employees laid off just before Christmas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- AT&T has announced layoff’s affecting people in five states, including Missouri.

Just days before Christmas, hundreds of people in the metro found out they will be out of jobs come Jan. 4.

On Dec. 16, the company announced a surplus affecting an estimated 600 employees in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The workers affected are both indoor and outdoor technicians.

Many of the layoffs in the metro area affect Direct TV technicians and employees at a local call center.

On Thursday, leaders of the Local 6360 Union held a meeting to offer help and share resources with workers who have been laid off. The meeting falls on the same night AT&T announced $1,000 bonuses for more than 200,000 U.S. employees in response to the GOP Tax Plan passing. Those recently notified of these job cuts say the bonuses seem like a slap in the face.

“How can you lay people off and then give them $1,000 and say that there’s going to be more jobs available? I wish someone could tell me how that’s possible because I have to explain that to my members, and right now at this time of year, this is a difficult pill to swallow,” said Joseph Blanco, president of Local 6360 Communication Workers of America Union.

“It makes no sense. It creates a lot of tension and, quite frankly, a lot of our members are on edge because they don’t understand the direction of this company and its mentality of how they’re being treated,” he said.

Local unions are busy working to set up job interviews for surplus workers and inform them of new opportunities in the area. Local 6360 is also setting up a series of workshops so laid off workers can understand what happens when the paycheck stops and the statewide resources that are available to them.

AT&T contacted Fox 4 with a statement and said they hired more than 800 employees in Missouri in 2016, about 650 in 2017 and are currently hiring nearly 70 more across the state.

Statement:

We’re adding people in many areas where we’re seeing increased customer demand for products and services. At the same time, technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies and there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we’re adjusting our workforce in some of those areas as we continue to align our workforce with the changing needs of the business. Many of the affected employees have a job offer guarantee that ensures they’ll be offered another job with the company, and we’ll work to find other jobs for as many of them as possible.

As a result of decreasing work volume and to increase efficiency, we are consolidating some call center work currently done at one of our locations in Kansas City (2121 E. 63rd St.) into another company location in San Antonio. Affected employees will be offered the opportunity to work in our center in San Antonio, and a relocation allowance. Work volume at the center has been decreasing due in part to improvements in technology and customers’ increasing preference to communicate with us online.