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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Mass layoff at Bremerton call center, hello AT&T?

If AT&T wants to start hiring more U.S. call center workers to win support for its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, it should try the 360 area code.

A call center in Bremerton today informed the state that it’s laying off 240 employees by Oct. 31. Last year the center’s biggest client was Sprint.

The state disclosed the layoff today. If I’d known about it sooner, I would have mentioned it in today’s column on the AT&T deal, which looks at AT&T’s job creation pitch.

Englewood, Colo.-based TeleTech is doing the layoff in Bremerton. For a call center company, it’s surprisingly hard to find someone to answer the phone there — the media contact didn’t respond to phone or email requests for comment.

TeleTech received a warm welcome in Bremerton, especially after it disclosed plans last year to hire 250 people.

That was supposed to bring its total workforce to around 675, according to an article in the Kitsap Sun last summer. The article said employees started at $9.75 an hour. That’s nearly $2 lower than the median pay such workers receive across the country and close to the state’s minimum wage of $8.67.

Before the layoff, about 1,100 people in the Bremerton area worked as customer service representatives, according to the state Employment Security Department.

Statewide there are about 30,000 people employed in that job category, which includes call centers and other customer service jobs.

UPDATE: Apparently another company at the Bremerton call center may hire the laid off workers.

TeleTech lost its contract to operate at the center, which is run by IBM, and the new contractor — Manpower — is offering jobs to those laid off, according to Peggy Barnett, Employment Security’s business services manager for the area.

“That’s my understanding — that everybody has an offer to move over if they’d like, to their same positions,” she said.

Comments | Topics: AT&T, call center jobs, DOJ lawsuit

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