AT&T Attacks FCC In Wake of T-Mobile Layoff Announcement
March 25, 2012

AT&T Attacks FCC In Wake of T-Mobile Layoff Announcement

Following cellphone service provider T-Mobile's Thursday announcement of employee layoffs and call center closures, AT&T went on the attack, essentially saying that the facilities and the jobs could have been saved had the FCC approved a merger between the two telecom companies several months ago.

According to the Associated Press (AP), T-Mobile announced that they would be closing seven of their 24 call centers by the end of June and cutting 1,900 jobs in the process.

The call centers scheduled to be closed are located in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Frisco, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; Lenexa, Kansas; Thornton, Colorado, and Redmond, Oregon.

The Fort Lauderdale closing alone will result in the loss of some 500 jobs -- the second largest layoff the state has suffered this year, according to a Miami Herald report.

The company also said that employees working at the soon-to-be-closed locations will be given a chance to transfer to one of the 17 remaining call centers, and that those facilities will be hiring up to 1,400 workers, the AP reported.

Those who choose to transfer will be provided with relocation aid, while those that do not will receive severance packages, outplacement support, and two months worth of healthcare provided by T-Mobile through the COBRA program, the company told PCMag reporter Mark Hachman.

"Concentrating call centers is an important step to achieve competitive cost structures to successfully compete as Challenger and value player in the wireless market," T-Mobile Chief Executive and President Philipp Humm said in a statement, according to Hachman. "These are not easy steps to take, but they are necessary to realize efficiency in order to invest for growth."

In the wake of the layoff announcement, AT&T released a statement of their own, giving what Business Insider writer Matt Rosoff dubbed "a Bronx cheer" to the federal regulators who blocked their proposed merger with T-Mobile.

"Yesterday, T-Mobile made the sad announcement that it would be closing seven call centers, laying off thousands of workers, and that more layoff announcements may follow," Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, said in that statement

Normally, he said, the company would not comment on such an announcement, but Cicconi said that this situation was "an exception" because "only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved. We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs."

"At that time, the current FCC not only rejected our pledges and predictions, they also questioned our credibility. The FCC argued that the merger would cost jobs, not preserve them, and that rejecting it would save jobs," he added. "Rarely are a regulatory agency´s predictive judgments proven so wrong so fast. But for the government´s decision, centers now being closed would be staying open, workers now facing layoffs would have job guarantees, and communities facing turmoil would have security. Only a few months later, the truth of who was right is sadly obvious."

Chris Velazco of TechCrunch called AT&T's press release "shameful."

"I´ve read the thing a few times, and I sort of get where Mr. Cicconi is coming from -- the FCC called them out specifically on their stance on the merger creating jobs, and AT&T was (sadly) correct in this case," he wrote. "But really, Mr. Cicconi, 1,900 people just found out they would be out of a job in three months. Did you really, honestly think that this was the best opportunity to give the FCC an 'I told you so?'"