New AT&T Layoffs Underscore Dying Wireline Biz

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With the vast majority of people owning cellphones – and the majority of those now using smartphones – nobody seems to need to call for directory assistance or dial up their local telephone operator for directions.

That's why AT&T is eliminating 71 operator jobs in Connecticut. It's a trend that's happening with phone companies all over the country. There used to be 4,000 operators in the Bay State, and that number has dropped to about 100, a Communications Workers of America union rep told The Day.

Most of the positions being eliminated are entry-level jobs; those with seniority are expected to be able to maintain their positions.

"[But] they're important jobs to keep," the CWA Local 1298's William Henderson told the newspaper. "This is a corporation that only cares about the bottom line."

"Because we're performing well overall, AT&T can provide our 240,000 employees with quality middle class careers with wages and benefits that are among the best in the country," AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said in an emailed response.

Richter told The Day the carrier will give "enhanced severance" to the laid-off workers, which includes six months of paid health insurance. The good news: Beyond its growing wireless business, AT&T says it has hired 500 technicians and retail associates for its U-verse TV service over the past 16 months.

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