As AT&T hails tax cut with bonuses for some workers, it hands pink slips to others

AT&T layoffs affect five states, including Missouri.
AT&T layoffs affect five states, including Missouri. File photo

AT&T hailed the passage of the tax cut bill in Congress on Wednesday by announcing $1,000 bonuses to about 200,000 workers.

The telecommunications giant is also quietly laying off hundreds of others.

AT&T announced that once the tax bill is signed into law it would add $1 billion to its capital budget and “pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers.”

“This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs,” AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said, according to CNBC.

But The New York Post reports the company has laid off more than 700 DirecTV technicians. Said an AT&T spokesman: “We continue to align our workforce with the changing needs of the business. This includes some premises technician jobs.”

Fox4 said the layoffs affect five states, including Missouri. The others are Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. It is not clear how many workers in the Kansas City area are affected.

“This is a difficult pill to swallow,” Joseph Blanco, president of Local 6360 Communication Workers of America, told the TV station.

An AT&T spokeswoman responded to an inquiry from The Star.

“We’re adding people in many areas where we’re seeing increased customer demand for products and services,” spokewoman Katie Nagus said in an email. “At the same time, technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies and there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we’re adjusting our workforce in some of those areas as we continue to align our workforce with the changing needs of the business. Many of the affected employees have a job offer guarantee that ensures they’ll be offered another job with the company, and we’ll work to find other jobs for as many of them as possible.

“As a result of decreasing work volume and to increase efficiency, we are consolidating some call center work currently done at one of our locations in Kansas City (2121 E. 63rd St.) into another company location in San Antonio,” Nagus continued. “Affected employees will be offered the opportunity to work in our center in San Antonio, and a relocation allowance. Work volume at the center has been decreasing due in part to improvements in technology and customers’ increasing preference to communicate with us online.

“For some context, we hired over 800 employees in Missouri alone in 2016, about 650 so far this year, and we’re currently hiring nearly 70 more across the state.”

The Washington Post puts the $1 billion additional investment planned by the company in perspective. AT&T spent $23 billion on infrastructure in 2016 and is on track to spend $22 billion in 2017.

The tax bill cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent. AT&T’s current tax rate is 32.7 percent.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC