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

March 28, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Confirmed: T-Mobile cuts hundreds of headquarters jobs

A major layoff is happening at the Bellevue headquarters of T-Mobile USA, which today confirmed the downsizing that employees have been telling me about this month.

Between 200 and 300 employees in the operations group were laid off, ranging from administrative assistants to senior vice presidents. The layoffs are in addition to the layoff of 100 people in the marketing department earlier this month,

After weeks of silence, T-Mobile today confirmed the layoffs in a prepared statement:

As you know, T Mobile announced a series of moves Tuesday that are part of our new business strategy designed to address consumer frustration with the unnecessary cost and complexity of wireless.  As a result, we are making some operational changes to better align our business with our new strategy and position T-Mobile for growth.  This affects a small number of employees relative to the overall size of the business, and while we don’t take these actions lightly, these adjustments to how we invest in the business will enable us to better focus our resources as we implement this strategy. Customer service at every level remains our highest priority.

The layoffs come as T-Mobile is preparing to go public after it merges with Dallas-based MetroPCS in a deal that shareholders are voting on April 12.

“They definitely are whittling down to the leanest organization they can survive with,” said Michele Clark, a seven-year veteran of the company, who was working as an executive assistant in the operations group when she was laid off today.

T-Mobile is the nation’s fourth largest carrier and the largest wireless company still based in the Seattle area, which spawned the modern wireless industry in the 1980s, when McCaw Cellular established a national network.  Last year it had about 4,800 employees at its Bellevue headquarters and 36,000 nationally.

Another affected employee said people had been anticipating the cuts in part because the human-resources group reserved conference rooms today.

This employee found out she was on the list when she received an electronic calendar invitation to meet with a supervisor. The invitation came after the employee and others on the team worked over the weekend to prepare for the launch of T-Mobile’s new service plans, which were unveiled Tuesday.

“You have a half an hour to do whatever you need to do then give your badge and leave,” the employee said. “I’ve never dealt with anything so unprofessional.”

The company has yet to notify the state Employment Security Department of a mass layoff, though it may not be technically required, depending on how the layoff is structured.

T-Mobile isn’t saying much about the rumors internally, either, according to the  employee, who  laid off this morning:

“The only communication that we got about this was rumors,” the employee said.

Meanwhile, the employee is fuming over handling of the layoffs and how it contrasts with the value and mission statements posted around headquarters in Factoria.

“l look at the values that are printed on every poster on every wall — ‘go big, stay scrappy,’ ‘integrity and respect guide our decisions,’ ‘best place to perform and grow’ — I just want to go around the building with a Sharpie and go ‘this one doesn’t apply, this one doesn’t apply,” the employee said.

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