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

net and video installations. AT&T Broadband
contractors are also installing fiber-optic lines throughout the Atlanta area
in order to upgrade service to its 600,000 customers.


The company recently refined its call center operations with software that will
streamline the order process. About 300 workers in the call centers are now
only handling repair and customer service calls for the Atlanta area, while all
inbound sales are handled by a APAC, a Texas-based company.


AT&T Broadband is owned by AT&T Corp.

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