AT&T, which is giving $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees in the wake of the Republican tax overhaul, is also handing out hundreds of pink slips to workers in Illinois and five other Midwest states.
About 600 workers across a variety of positions, from retail sales clerks to satellite technicians, were notified of the layoffs last week, according to sources close to the situation.
The Dallas-based telecommunications giant would not confirm the scope of the layoffs, but it acknowledged in an emailed statement Friday that it was making “workforce adjustments” in its declining legacy services.
“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,” the company said. “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.”
While AT&T would not confirm the number of layoffs in Illinois, a spokesman on Friday touted the company’s recent hiring record in the state.
“We hired about 640 people in Illinois alone through November of this year, including over 340 in Chicago,” said Phil Hayes, an AT&T spokesman. “We’re currently hiring about 120 more in the state, including over 40 in Chicago.”
Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Communications Workers of America, which represents AT&T workers in Illinois and across the U.S., said the union is still “assessing the effect” of the layoffs. Last week, the CWA announced it had reached a tentative contract agreement with AT&T for 21,000 wireless workers in 36 states that included a 10.1 percent raise over four years and job security protections in the event a retail store or call center closes.
The employees are set to vote Jan. 12 on the new agreement.
Notice of the layoffs preceded the company’s Wednesday announcement of the $1,000 bonuses and an additional $1 billion in capital spending in 2018 due to the tax overhaul, which lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
President Donald Trump praised AT&T, Comcast, Sinclair Broadcast Group and other companies that offered similar bonuses tied to the tax legislation Friday morning during a televised bill signing.
The Justice Department sued AT&T in November in an attempt to block the company’s proposed $85 billion bid to buy Time Warner, a deal that Trump previously said would not be approved under his administration because it was “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”