The Verizon call center in Henrietta, south of Rochester, will close early next year - taking 600 jobs with it out of the area. The move comes less than six months after a bitter six-week strike was settled with the promise of new jobs.
A company statement says the Henrietta operation will relocate to sites where the company has the extra capacity and room to grow. Verizon says it needs to realign its real estate portfolio and customer service operations to make the best use of extra capacity in the remaining locations.
The company calls it a “very difficult but necessary business decision.” Verizon says these employees are “highly trained, skilled and experienced and they will be encouraged to stay with the company. “
The Henrietta call center will close as of January 27 and Verizon also sent out notices this week to employees at four other call centers around the country.
Employees will have the option to fill jobs at other call centers around the country and will be offered a relocation assistance package. The company is also offering to help with expenses for employees who want to travel to another call center to explore the new work environment.
Verizon workers unable to relocate or get another job with the company will be offered separation packages and outplacement help.
A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo called the closure “an egregious example of corporate abuse” and said that Cuomo has directed the state labor department to dispatch its rapid response team to help employees during the transition.
Some 40,000 Verizon workers across the East Coast walked off the job in April, in a bitter contract dispute that required a U.S. Labor Department arbitrator to settle. The union said concessions requested by management would have devastated working families and was an attempt at union busting. Management added 1,400 new jobs and a more than 10 percent raise for workers after the strike ended.
Bob Duffy, the President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, released a statement saying that any time an employer cuts hundreds of jobs in the Rochester region it is difficult for not only those workers, but for their families and the regional economy.
He says in many places a loss of 600 jobs is like a “tree falling in the forest. In Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes region it is like a tree falling on your house."
Duffy says the chamber stands ready to work with employers to help impacted workers find new jobs.