Hilliard could lose some jobs and income-tax revenue next year, according to David Meadows, the city’s economic-development director.

Verizon spokesman Steve Van Dinter said March 13 that the 500 employees at the call center on the Britton Parkway campus in Hilliard will transition to home-based agents.

Current call-center employees who don’t want to become home-based agents can ask for a transfer to another call center, he said.

Verizon recently announced the closure of one-third of its U.S. call centers, according to the Communications Workers of America union.

The CWA also claims many of the transitions will involve layoffs.

"Workers deserve real job security," said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 Vice President and chair of CWA's Wireless Workers United, a network of union and nonunion workers organizing to protect good jobs and quality customer service. "If this is not a layoff, as Verizon Wireless claims, all workers at the six affected centers should get to keep their jobs. If workers don't qualify for home-based positions, Verizon should provide nearby office space and not force workers to relocate hundreds or thousands of miles away from their current jobs."

Van Dinter called the CWA statement “inaccurate.”

“If they accept (becoming a home-based agent) or transfer, they keep their job," he said.

The only qualification is having a “quiet room,” he said.

“We are paying our employees the same pay and benefits in the comfort of their own home,” he said. 

The ability to work from home is something Verizon officials believe employees prefer, Van Dinter said.

“Verizon provides the equipment they need and a $65 stipend for internet access,” he said.

For those seeking a transfer, Verizon is paying $500 in travel expenses and a two days of paid time-off to make the transition, Van Dinter said.

Meadows told Hilliard City Council members March 13 that Verizon decided to allow some of its employees to work remotely.

“Verizon has announced the closure of several contact centers across the country. This is part of an effort to overcome challenges hiring second- and third-shift workers by allowing employees to work from home,” Meadows said. “While this will impact Hilliard’s contact center, the program is starting off as a voluntary initiative so the company is not able to provide a specific headcount.”

He said income-tax revenue could be lost when workers who don’t live in Hilliard become home-based, but all call-center workers who are Hilliard residents would remain subject to the local tax.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo