About 470 employees at Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland will lose their jobs by the end of the year as part of a companywide downsizing by Bell Atlantic Corp., C&P's parent, the company said yesterday.
Bell Atlantic said it expects to eliminate 3,450 jobs at its seven phone companies by Christmas, fewer than the 4,000 to 6,000 jobs the company earmarked for elimination earlier. In April, Bell Atlantic said it expected to cut as many as 6,000 jobs by the end of the year.
Yesterday's announcement was the first time Bell Atlantic had said how many people it expected to cut from individual companies.
Bell Atlantic said the cuts were needed to curb costs and boost efficiency amid increasing competition in nearly all its business segments.
Since 1984, Bell Atlantic has cut 12,000 jobs, using buyouts, early-retirement packages and other voluntary incentives. In December 1991, 3,200 managers left the company under an early-retirement plan.
Yesterday, Bell Atlantic said it would make "every effort" to achieve additional cuts through voluntary means. But the company didn't rule out layoffs if the voluntary measures do not work.
"You can't rule it out," said Larry Plumb, a spokesman for Bell Atlantic in Arlington, Va. "You can never say never."
Possible layoffs and how they might be accomplished are being debated as part of Bell Atlantic's discussions with the Communications Workers of America, which represents about 40,000 Bell Atlantic workers. CWA's contract with Bell Atlantic expires Aug. 8.
The reductions announced yesterday will not affect management.
In Maryland, C&P has about 8,600 unionized employees and 1,500 management workers. Bell Atlantic has about 75,000 workers.
Charles Bates, president of CWA Local 2101 in Baltimore, said he hoped seniority would dictate who gets laid off, but he also expressed hope that layoffs will not be necessary.
"There are enough people on unemployment these days without a profitable company like Bell Atlantic adding to it," Mr. Bates said.
Bell Atlantic, one of the seven largest corporations in the nation, had first-quarter profits of $358.5 million on revenues of $3 billion.
Under the planned reductions, Bell Atlantic's telephone companies will lose the following number of jobs: C&P of Maryland, 470; C&P of Washington, 120; C&P of Virginia, 475; C&P of West Virginia, 230; Bell of Pennsylvania, 975; Diamond State Telephone Co. in Delaware, 40; New Jersey Bell, 1,140.
To ensure that one telephone company wasn't hit harder than another, reductions were based on the size of each company's work force, said Jay Grossman, a Bell Atlantic spokesman in Philadelphia. The larger the work force, the larger the expected cut.