AT&T will shutter a Goldsboro call center that once employed 400 people and was established to repatriate American jobs from foreign countries – a condition of federal approval of AT&T acquiring BellSouth.
The telecommunications giant disclosed the planned closure in a notice sent Tuesday to the state Department of Commerce. The closure will result in the elimination of 95 jobs, including 78 customer assistants who took calls from AT&T customers. The layoffs will start Jan. 3 and end Jan. 9, AT&T said it its letter to the N.C. Department of Commerce.
In response to a media inquiry, AT&T said the call center was a casualty of falling demand for DSL customers and flooding from Hurricane Matthew. The DSL business, which delivered home internet over copper lines, is a legacy business in decline.
“Call volume had been declining significantly for some time and was expected to continue,” AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said in an email. “So we have decided to consolidate work that was done in the center into other company locations with unused capacity.”
The facility was idled by flooding and is unusable; it has remained vacant for more than two weeks now.
“We have continued to pay our employees and provide benefits since the building closed on Oct. 10, after it was severely damaged by flooding in the wake of the hurricane,” Richter said.
“Most importantly,” Richter said, “we are offering opportunities for every one of them to work at their choice of several other company locations, including three in North Carolina – Fayetteville, Greensboro and Charlotte – and a relocation allowance of up to $10,000.”
AT&T will continue to provide pay and benefits through Jan. 3 for those who choose to not relocate; after that date, the company will pay $7,500 in transition relief, plus up to 10 weeks of severance pay.
AT&T opened the call center in in 2008 after a $4.5 million renovation of a vacant Winn-Dixie grocery store at 2441 US 117 S. The facility operated round-the-clock with three shifts, mostly staffed by entry-level employees paid in the low $20,000s a year to handle customer calls.
AT&T received $600,000 in state and local incentives for choosing Goldsboro over other Southeastern locations to build the call center.