New AT&T Layoffs Underscore Dying Wireline Biz

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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