The Association of U S West Retirees



Qwest adding 700 workers
Utah, Idaho moves follow IT reductions
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Qwest Communications on Tuesday announced the opening of a customer sales and service center in Utah that it said will employ up to 600 people within the next several months.  The Denver telco also said it plans to add 100 jobs at its Idaho customer-service center.

At the same time, Qwest continues to cut jobs in other areas, including 55 information-technology employees within the past week, according to union officials.  An additional 10 to 12 nonunion IT positions were believed to be part of that layoff.

Qwest employs slightly less than 40,000 overall, down 5 percent during the past year.

Annie Hill, vice president of District 7 of the Communications Workers of America, said the Utah center stems from an agreement last year to bring more than 1,000 customer-service jobs back into the bargaining unit.

The CWA had feared it would lose more than 3,000 workers in the next three years because of moves in 2004 by the Denver telco to train contractors to handle customer sales and service.  While the union won back work, it did so at a lower $10-an-hour wage rate for new hires.

Qwest spokesman Michael Dunne characterized the Utah jobs as "new jobs to be hired locally."  The Utah center will handle calls from customers throughout the company's 14-state local phone region.

Suzi Miller, president of Local 7777 of the Communications Workers of America, said union officials are still trying to determine the reason for the IT layoffs.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said the company doesn't discuss or confirm layoff numbers.  But he would say, "We're continually adjusting our work force to match the needs of the business."

Toevs also wouldn't say whether any of the IT work is being shifted overseas.  But he did confirm Qwest has a subsidiary in Bangalore, India, "that allows us to continually balance our workload so we can manage particular IT projects around the clock, and deliver critical work on time."

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