Technology

Sprint layoffs reach 235 in the Reston, Va., area

Layoffs at Sprint Corp. have hit 235 employees at its operations in the Reston, Va., area, a spokeswoman for the Overland Park company said Friday.

Sprint notified Virginia officials of the layoffs under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, spokeswoman Melinda Tiemeyer said.

A copy of the report was not immediately available from Virginia officials, and Sprint declined to provide one. The company has about 1,800 employees in the Washington area.

Last week Sprint similarly notified Kansas officials about 452 layoffs at its Overland Park headquarters campus. Those cutbacks came from among 7,500 Kansas City area employees, including some who don’t work at the campus.

The cutbacks are part of a continuing review of Sprint’s information technology, network, portfolio management and technology groups. So far, the company hasn’t said how many jobs it plans to eliminate.

Additional layoffs are expected here and in Reston. Last week Sprint said it expected to update layoffs at its headquarters with another report to Kansas officials in mid-November.

Reston had become the headquarters of Sprint Nextel Corp. when it formed from the 2005 merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications. The home office designation returned to Overland Park in 2008 under then chief executive officer Dan Hesse.

Marcelo Claure, named CEO in August, has made cost cutting a priority in bolstering the struggling wireless carrier. He told investors last month that he would eliminate spending on “nice to haves” rather than “must haves” without disclosing exactly what he had in mind.

Claure did not specifically cite plans to cut jobs, but a Sprint spokeswoman confirmed at the time that these layoffs were coming based on a review that began before Claure became CEO.

Sprint said Friday that some of its job cuts in information technology had come because there is less work to do. An emailed statement cited lower “trouble ticket volumes,” the retirement of some applications and systems, and increased efficiency.

Some of the information technology layoffs have come because Sprint is making “expanded use of our existing vendors,” the statement said.

The company said Friday there is no connection between the layoffs and its work with Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp., which owns 80 percent of Sprint. SoftBank uses some of the same technology that Sprint is enhancing its wireless network with, and Claure has said he would get SoftBank more involved at Sprint.

A statement Friday from Sprint said:

“We continue to have a collaborative relationship with SoftBank, and other SoftBank companies, for the purpose of best practice and information sharing. The SoftBank relationship has continued to grow over the past year, and there are instances where our employees are working side by side, as appropriate, to address business needs and explore new opportunities for the benefit of both Sprint and SoftBank. We anticipate having employees from both companies engage in longer-term assignments.”

The layoff notices in Virginia and Overland Park offer only a partial look at Sprint’s job cutbacks. The WARN Act requires notices only under specific circumstances that can leave many job cuts unreported.

Sprint employees who have gotten notices generally will continue to work for two weeks, but some may remain on the job longer. Companies often tie broad layoffs to their financial reporting calendar, and Sprint’s business operates on a fiscal year that ends March 31 rather than Dec. 31.

Job cuts are only one area where the struggling wireless company is trying to cut costs and operate more efficiently. It has been cutting prices for customers, which makes the need to cut costs more evident.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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