MCI to close Georgia call center, laying off nearly 600 in Sept.

Similar closings in Md., Iowa are in the works

August 18, 2005|By COX NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA - MCI Inc. plans to close a call center in Alpharetta, Ga., idling nearly 600 workers as part of three closings that will claim about 1,100 jobs in Georgia, Maryland and Iowa.

MCI, which is in the process of being acquired by Verizon Communications Inc., told workers about the changes at the end of last month. They'll keep their jobs through next month.

The losses in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, will cut MCI's employee numbers there to about 1,000, said Stefanie Scott, an MCI spokeswoman. The cuts there include 529 telemarketing positions, 12 managerial jobs and 32 supervisory slots.

The workers were notified 60 days prior to losing their jobs, as required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. MCI's letter said those who lose their jobs would get severance pay.

MCI, based in Ashburn, Va., said in a prepared statement that the cuts are being made because of "new market realities" in the changing telecommunications sector.

"By reducing our call-center presence we are streamlining our operations, while continuing to place our primary focus on the enterprise segment of our industry," the statement said. The enterprise segment involves large business customers.

Scott, the MCI spokeswoman, would not elaborate on whether the jobs are disappearing or being moved elsewhere, such as overseas.

More job cuts are likely at MCI should the Verizon deal go through. When Verizon announced this year that it would acquire MCI for $8.46 billion, the company said it aimed to shed about 7,000 jobs.

Scott said the job losses in Alpharetta and elsewhere aren't part of the 7,000 possible cuts.

Of the three MCI call centers being closed, Alpharetta involves the most positions. In Maryland, the company is closing its Hunt Valley center with the loss of about 300 jobs. Iowa City, Iowa, is losing about 200.

MCI has gone through a spate of difficulties recently. MCI, formerly WorldCom Inc., was renamed after a corporate fraud led to the nation's largest bankruptcy.

On Monday, Verizon said it might reduce its bid for MCI, depending on the latter's bankruptcy and tax liabilities.

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