Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cingular Merger with AT&T Threatens Cingular Jobs — including those in Lafayette!

If you can, think back to those days of late spring/early summer, when BellSouth and Cox Communications were floundering about for effective arguments against the proposed LUS fiber to the premises project. (At last report, they were still floundering, but had given up on the effective arguments piece.)

If you can recall those early days of this struggle, you may recall that a sometimes whispered threat coming off the lips of the BellSouth folks was that the LUS project could somehow jeopardize the thousand or so jobs at the Cingular call center in Lafayette.

Those threats were subtle; something like, "gee, it would be terrible if something happened to those Cingular jobs if the company's owners (BellSouth owns 40 percent of Cingular, while SBC owns 60 percent) no longer felt welcome here."

Well, Monday's New York Times confirms the bad news: Cingular's call center jobs like those in Lafayette are, in fact, "in play." But, the threat has nothing to do with LUS.

No, according to this New York Times story on the pending merger between Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless, those jobs are in play because of that merger itself.

A paragraph near the end of the story lays out the likely places where opportunities for 'efficiencies' may be found:

Given that Cingular and AT&T Wireless combined will have nearly 70,000 employees, analysts expect thousands of workers to be laid off. The first jobs to go may be the roughly 10,000 contract workers the two companies employ, including those technicians working remotely and operators at call centers. Staff reductions at the headquarters of both companies are also likely.

So, the BellSouth boys weren't bluffing: those Cingular call center jobs may well be in jeopardy. The fact that they are in jeopardy due to the actions of the company itself — and not LUS — must have just been a little detail that somehow slipped the BellSouth machine's attention.

Not that there was any intent to mislead or anything like that — honest! It was all just an innocent mistake! Right! And Saddam Hussein is still developing weapons of mass destruction.

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