West Corp. former employees eligible for trade act benefits
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 09, 2013
2/09/13 at 5:06 AM
Former employees of West Business Solutions in Tulsa, a subsidiary of West Corp., have been approved for trade benefits, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission announced this week.
The Trade Readjustment Assistance program provides assistance to those who lose jobs or significant work hours because of increased imports or a shift in production out of the United States.
"The company estimates that there will be 667 workers potentially impacted by this. The employees performed 'incoming customer telephone call services' according to the TRA certification report," said John Carpenter, public information officer with the OESC, in an email.
Putting that number into context, Dave Pleiss, vice president of investor and public relations for West Corp., explained, "The Department of Labor sent us a questionnaire after they were petitioned for Trade Adjustment Assistance. In that questionnaire, we were asked for the total number of employees that have left the company over the past two years. That is where the 667 came from.
"That number includes employees that were terminated for various reasons in addition to those that have left on their own. We have not had a layoff in Tulsa over that time period," Pleiss said in an email.
Founded in 1986, the Omaha, Neb.-based company is a leading provider of technology-driven communication services. The company offers a broad range of communications and network infrastructure solutions that help clients manage or support critical communications.
Last October, West Corp. announced plans to hire an additional 300 seasonal and permanent employees through the holiday season at its Tulsa call center as demand ramped up for a toy retailer client, according to a previous report.
October's job-hiring announcement came a few months after the company had announced plans in July to add 100 employees to its center.
At the end of December, West Corp. had almost 650 at its Tulsa center.
"West Corp. has no plans to leave the Tulsa market. In fact, we are thrilled with our employees there and have been doing our best to try and get a new client for the center there. The labor market is skilled and does a great job for us," Pleiss said.
West Business Solutions employees who qualify for TRA can access services such as income support, relocation and job search allowances, and health coverage tax credits.
Those who need retraining for suitable employment may receive occupational training. The goal is to quickly reconnect laid-off workers with suitable employment, OESC officials said.
To qualify for TRA, applicants must be laid off or threatened with layoff; employer sales or production must decrease; and increased imports of products that compete with the company's products must contribute to layoffs or the threat of layoffs, according to the OESC.
Once certified, TRA recipients must enroll in training, though the state can waive this requirement in certain cases.
All workers of West Business Solutions LLC who became totally or partially separated from employment on or after Dec. 14, 2011, 2011, through Jan. 31, 2013, are eligible to apply for adjustment assistance. Also, all workers threatened with total or partial separation from employment on Jan. 31, 2013, through Jan. 31, 2015, are eligible to apply.
Those who want to apply for TRA should contact their nearest Workforce Oklahoma Center at 888-980-9675.
Original Print Headline: Trade benefits OK'd for former West employees
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466