News : American Water Planning Layoffs at Alton Call Center
Alton, IL, August 14, 2014 -- American Water Co. employees at the Alton call center received an ominous message during a company meeting Thursday.
According to an American Water employee, administrators told employees that there would be layoffs in the coming weeks, warning them not make any big purchases or major life decisions in the near future. The employees weren’t told who or how many of the 244 union employees at the Alton location would be laid off, the employee said, just that they would know more in two weeks.
"They said they wanted to give us a heads up so we don’t make any decisions that may be impacted by this such as buying a new home, car, etc.," the employee said.
American Water Co. vice president of communications Maureen Duffy confirmed to the Telegraph that the company announced plans for layoffs but couldn’t offer any more insight as to the scope of the layoffs.
"We did announce that there are potential lay-offs but we have more analysis to do and have no more details to relay," Duffy said in an email.
An email from Utility Worker’s Union of America (UWUA) Local 640 leadership was obtained by the Telegraph. In it, Local 640 leaders expressed anger and confusion at Thursday’s announcement, saying leadership was "demanding answers from American Water." The email also suggested UWUA members are currently forced to work mandatory overtime, asking, "this is the thanks we get?"
UWUA Local 640 also represents utility workers in Pensacola, Fla., and the email intimated employees in the Pensacola call center will also be affected by the layoffs.
American Water was recently in the news after the U.S. National Labor Relations Board issued a decision holding that the company illegally slashed healthcare and other benefits for 3,200 workers across the country. The decision ordered American Water to pay backpay with interest to all affected workers and to restore the illegal cuts in its employee benefits, a number the UWUA estimated to be several million dollars.
Despite the timing, Duffy said Thursday’s announcement was unrelated to the board’s decision.
"I do want to be clear that this is in no way related to the recent NLRB decision," Duffy said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, August 18, 2014
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