News : Connexion Point Call Center Cuts 121 Memphis Workers
Memphis, TN, USA, Dec 10, 2015 -- The workers hired since last summer for the Connexion Point call center in Memphis received cake and congratulations for their performance fielding calls during the open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage.
But on Tuesday, the day after the open enrollment period ended, the employees were surprised to find new bankers boxes for their belongings waiting for each of them. One by one during the day, they were called to find out if they would have permanent positions, or temporary jobs, or be fired.
Ultimately, 121 employees – more than a third of the workforce – were laid off and 210 were kept, Christina Sears, a spokeswoman for Salt Lake City-based Connexion Point, said Thursday.
For many of the workers, this week marks the second time in six months that they’ve lost jobs at a Memphis call center.
Some had worked before for Conduit Global, a New York-based company that promised 1,000 jobs when announced in 2014 but cut about 600 jobs – most of its workforce -- by last July after losing its major customer served by the center, telecommunications company Verizon.
From Oct. 15 until Monday, agents in Memphis working for Connexion Point fielded calls that hopefully would result in Medicare customers for the company's client, the health insurer Aetna, workers said.
Connexion Point agents, paid $10 an hour or $14 if licensed to sell health insurance, had been hired with a letter offering temporary employment, Sears said.
Once the surge of calls generated by Medicare Advantage and "Part D" drug plan open enrollment ended, a reduction in force was necessary at the call center, she said. Metrics of quality scores, attendance and sales rates are used to make the decisions, she said.
"We basically had to let the lower portion of the people go that were not performing … or weren’t performing as strongly as some of the other ones, is probably more fair," Sears said.
Of the 121 agents let go, five were licensed, she said.
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Connexion Point, which added Memphis this year to three call centers in Utah and one in San Antonio, on Thursday held a job fair for its laid off workers at a hotel several miles from its call center on Paragon Place.
Several workers, women ranging in age from their 20s to 50s, described the layoff but declined to give their names for fear that it might harm their job searches.
They said that from statements by company officials, they were led to believe that their jobs would survive the open enrollment period. They described stressful working conditions and disputed the idea that workers who kept jobs were truly better performers than some who were fired.
Sears said the company’s door remains open for rehiring workers when needed.
"This is not at all a reflection on Memphis or on the quality of individuals that we hired," she said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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