by Edward Gately, Mar 13, 2018
Verizon is transitioning seven of its U.S. call centers to a 100 percent home-based agent (HBA) model, a move the Communications Workers of America (CWA) says will eliminate thousands of jobs.
The impacted call centers are in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Franklin, Tennessee; Hilliard, Ohio; Huntsville, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Mankato, Minnesota, and North Charleston, South Carolina.
Rich Young, Verizon spokeman, tells Channel Partners the workers in those call centers are “impacted by the center closings, but the vast majority are being offered positions as home-based agents.”
“We’re creating a more flexible and agile customer service work environment based on the positive feedback we’ve received from our employees currently in the HBA program,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to provide our employees with more flexibility while meeting the demands of our business and our customers. Currently, 96 percent of our home-based agent (HBA) employees report being highly satisfied in their HBA role.”
According to the CWA, half of the 6,500 positions currently at six of the call centers will remain as the company transitions to the new model during the next year. The new home-based jobs require workers to be able to work split shifts, weekends and holidays, have high-speed internet at home and an extra room with total quiet — conditions that many working families cannot meet, it said.
“Workers deserve real job security,” said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 vice president and chair of CWA’s Wireless Workers United, a network of union and non-union workers. “If this is not a layoff, as Verizon Wireless claims, all workers … should get to keep their jobs. If workers don’t qualify for home-based positions, Verizon should provide nearby office space and not force workers to relocate hundreds or thousands of miles away from their current jobs.”
Young said the CWA does not represent these employees.
“In fact, employees at our wireless call centers have repeatedly rejected organizing attempts by the CWA and have decided to remain union free valuing the direct relationship with Verizon Wireless including our industry leading wages and benefits,” he said. “The HBA transition is an example of a popular change that will positively benefit many employees while caring for those who choose not to transition to HBA. Employees at these centers have responded positively to this announcement.”
Verizon’s latest job cuts come despite the company’s “continued profitability and recent windfall from the corporate tax cuts that Congress passed last year, which the company estimates will be $3-4 billion in 2018,” according to the CWA.