Qwest Looks To Disconnect 700 Workers

Qwest, the incumbent telephone provider in 14 states, is offering buy-outs to about 700 workers.

The downsizing is prompted by a loss of business to competitive telephony providers, including cable companies and cellular rivals. The telephone company reported last year that it lost 9.1% of its residential landlines in 2007. Unlike its traditional phone competitors, Qwest does not have its own cellular division.

The telephone provider negotiated a separation agreement with the workers' union, the Communications Workers of America District 7, under which Qwest if offering financial incentives to workers to leave employment. The incentives are based on years of service, and Qwest said the buy-out effects less than 2% of the company's workforce.

“Over the years, we have turned first to our natural attrition rate to balance the loss of traditional access lines. This program is part of our continuing effort to match our workforce to our work load,” said Bob Tregemba, Qwest's executive vice president of network operations.

Despite the workforce downsizing, the company said it is committed to broadband deployment plans, including its fiber-to-the-node build-out.