RealTime IT News

AT&T Broadband Cuts 309 Workers

After announcing nationwide rate increases in cable packages earlier this week, AT&T Broadband unexpectedly laid off 309 Atlanta-based employees Thursday in an effort to improve customer satisfaction.

The layoffs at Atlanta's largest cable provider make up about one sixth of a work force of approximately 1,800 employees, with eliminated positions including some mid-level managers, customer service representatives, field technicians and dispatchers.

There are not expected to be any nationwide layoffs by AT&T Broadband.

"I've been with the company for about seven years," AT&T Broadband communications spokesman Reg Griffin said, "and this is the first time our leadership team took a look from top to bottom at this organization, not only from an economic standpoint, but how we were aligned. Our goal for the past six months has been to improve our customer service. We know we have outstanding products, but what it comes down to is delivering those services to our customers."

According to Griffin, AT&T Broadband officials eliminated positions that were either vaguely defined or were duplications of other existing jobs.

"It's a broadband battlefield out there between us and direct broadcast satellite companies," Griffin said. "The competition is real, and we just felt that the study we had conducted over the past 6 months showed that there were ways in which we could streamline our operations in order to be more competitive and to ultimately serve our customers better."

AT&T Broadband spokesperson Cindy Kicklighter said efforts are now being made to allay the fears of employees still with the company as to the future of their jobs.

"Our Senior Vice President Steve White is currently going to every employee group to explain what happened Thursday and why it happened," Kicklighter said. "He'll be explaining the company's goals and plans for 2001. He'll also be reassuring our employees that no more layoffs are planned at all. [White] is trying to stay close to the employees."

Kicklighter said although the layoffs came as a surprise to workers, the reaction to the talks that are taking place between White and AT&T Broadband employees seem positive, so far.

"The employees are behind Mr. White," she said. "He is telling everyone that they need to be committed and involved as any owner in this company would be, and the employees seem to understand what happened, and appear to want to work to make this company better."

"[The layoffs were] not about identifying people, but rather positions that just did not make sense," Griffin said. "It's always a tough decision whenever people's lives are impacted. Our main objective was to do this in a way that would show respect and dignity to all those affected."

According to Griffin, severance packages with at least 3 months' salary were offered to all terminated employees based on seniority. Terminated workers' tenure of employment with the company ranges from a few months to ten years, and all packages include short-term health benefits.

All employees laid off Thursday will have 30 days to apply for about 50 positions within AT&T Broadband's customer service department. Griffin expects all 50 positions to be filled quickly.

Six months ago, AT&T took over all MediaOne holdings and accounts after a $44 billion merger. Since the merger, AT&T Broadband has been in the process of upgrading the Atlanta cable network from analog to digital signal at the cost of about $400 million. The move to digital signals is expected to be completed at the end of this year.

AT&T Broadband Senior Vice President Steve White has previously been quoted as saying the company plans to do away with nearly all job outsourcing by May. Currently, the company uses about 10 contractors for 35 percent of the company's high-speed inter