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Hewlett-Packard eliminates 500 call center jobs in Conway

Posted: July 8, 2013 - 2:15pm
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Employees of Hewlett-Packard, Inc. were informed of 500 layoffs at a private meeting in the Conway Expo Center Monday afternoon. ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO
Employees of Hewlett-Packard, Inc. were informed of 500 layoffs at a private meeting in the Conway Expo Center Monday afternoon. ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO

Representatives with tech giant Hewlett-Packard Co. announced Monday the company will be eliminating about 500 call center positions at its Conway location.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company moved in to the 150,000 square-foot facility, located on 180 acres in Meadows Technology Park, in January 2010. The building is owned by Conway Development Corporation. More than 1000 employees in technical and call center positions are employed there.

Company officials gathered workers at the Conway Expo Center about 2 p.m. to deliver the news in a closed meeting.

Sen. Jason Rapert and State Rep. David Meeks both confirmed they were in a Monday morning meeting with company representatives who announced that the employees would be phased out over a period of four to six months, with the employees receiving two months severance pay.

Rapert said he would work closely with Governor Mike Beebe’s office, with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other state and local officials to help locate another industry that could utilize the space vacated by HP.

“Today, my thoughts are with the individuals and their families who are facing an uncertain future because of this disappointing news,” Rapert said. “Anything the company can do to ease this transition will be of invaluable help to the families affected by today’s announcement. I’m thankful Hewlett-Packard is maintaining a presence in Conway, and I hope the economic climate improves to the point the company can restore and even expand its workforce. They have provided tremendous benefits to our community, and like everyone else in Conway I’m saddened by this news.”

An official with the governor’s Dislocated Worker Task Force is expected to meet with affected workers soon, Rapert added.

HP Media Relations Officer Sarah Pompei said the move will happen immediately, although some positions will remain for the next few months.

“HP internally announced plans to restructure its Customer Support Specialist/Contact Center footprint in Conway,” Pompei said. “This is a component of the plan announced on May 2012, which is designed to simplify business processes, advance innovation and deliver better results for our customers, employees and shareholders.

“We reaffirm our commitment to providing innovative technology solutions to every community we reach,” she said. “As well, HP will be taking steps to help our affected employees during this transition.”

The employees are currently gathered in a closed meeting with company officials at the Conway Expo Center.

A worker who was laid off on Monday told The Log Cabin Democrat that his last scheduled workday is Tuesday, and the last pay day has been set for July 19. “They are calling it an ‘employment transition,’” he said.

Jamie Gates, senior vice president with the Conway Development Corp, said the news isn’t the kind they enjoy getting.

“Our first thoughts are with the employees who are affected. Thankfully announcements like this have been few and far between in Conway. It’s an example of why communities have to work every day at attracting jobs and growing the economy,” Gates said.

“HP is still a significant and positive influence on our economy. As economic developers we will continue to promote the Conway facility as a site for growing sectors within the company. As an organization we will do what we can to facilitate successful transition for those affected and continue to attract jobs and economic opportunity to Conway.”

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said the news came as a surprise. “We weren’t expecting this at all,” Townsell said. “We know the company has had some struggles and had made the company-wide announcement last year, but we didn’t know how that would affect Conway. Obviously it’s something we’d rather not see, and we feel for all of the people affected.”

In a press release, Congressman Tim Griffin said his heart goes out to all of those affected by the announcement.

“This is terrible and heartbreaking news for the workers, their families and all of Arkansas, and I will work with state and local leaders to help those impacted,” he said. “HP’s decision to restructure its business does not change the fact that Conway and Arkansas remain great places for high tech companies to call home, but it highlights why strengthening the economy and encouraging job growth remain my top priorities.”

About 1,400 workers are employed at the Conway facility.

Hewlett-Packard was recognized as Outstanding Large Employer in March during the annual meeting of the Conway Chamber of Commerce.

(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by email at megan.reynolds@thecabin.net. Follow us on Twitter @LCDonline.)

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FJIMR
19
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FJIMR 07/08/13 - 03:13 pm
2
0
Total employees?

500!? Just how many people are employed there?

Megan Reynolds
7849
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Megan Reynolds 07/08/13 - 03:10 pm
2
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@FJIMR

The company currently employs about 1400 workers.

odoketa
394
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odoketa 07/08/13 - 03:23 pm
4
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incentives offered

What incentives were offered to HP to locate their facility in Conway? Were they simply tax breaks, or did the city or state put money in up front (for example, who built the facility, etc.) Hopefully there was a clawback mechanism built in to the contracts and agreements.

Alan English
174
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Alan English 07/08/13 - 03:34 pm
2
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Paying back

Sen. Rapert indicated that HP has promised to reconcile - likely in payments - on incentives and square up. There were provisions. That'll be something to follow up on.

Freethinker
118
Points
Freethinker 07/08/13 - 07:02 pm
5
0
It Was a Gamble

It was a gamble to give a non-innovative company so many incentives in the first place. Poor products and poor service are killing them.

Igor Rabinowitz
9447
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Igor Rabinowitz 07/08/13 - 07:24 pm
6
0
Back story

It got around that the Conway location was taken seriously by HP management, but in the end it meant moving tasks being done elsewhere into Conway. People, HP people, HP people who didn't want to see their fiefdom taken down were opposed to this.

Who can blame 'em, right? Ever since the crash of '07/'08 the economy's been really stingy for opportunity.

So anyway what appears to be the case now are those HPites located elsewhere were able to maintain their fiefdom, while the noobies in Conway lost theirs.

Call center jobs.

Welcome to the new economy.

sevenof400
7003
Points
sevenof400 07/09/13 - 11:00 am
4
1
I hate to think about the number of college graduates...

...who will end up in call center jobs with a boat load of debt courtesy of their college or university. It is still a job-less recovery....

sevenof400
7003
Points
sevenof400 07/08/13 - 08:33 pm
5
2
It isn't poor products alone that is the source...

...of HP's troubles.

When you take the kind of stances on issues that HP has, you get what you deserve.
When you worry more about policy (and diversity) and less about product quality and innovation, the outcome is inevitable.

The sad fact is 500 people will be paying (with their jobs) for upper management's misguided concern with social policy.

reader
19364
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reader 07/08/13 - 09:04 pm
1
5
Geez - your conclusions are amazing

"When you worry more about policy (and diversity) and less about product quality and innovation, the outcome is inevitable.

The sad fact is 500 people will be paying (with their jobs) for upper management's misguided concern with social policy."

Such an idiot for a school teacher. Now there is a problem.

I guess we can expect the Fortune 500 to all announce massive layoffs tomorrow with your logic.

Be sure and thank both Congressmen Stephen and David Meeks and our own outstanding Senator Rapert for cutting the benefits these unemployed folks will receive during the last session. Be sure to thank them by voting for someone else in the next election.

sevenof400
7003
Points
sevenof400 07/08/13 - 09:51 pm
4
2
There he is ladies and gentlemen, the king of obfuscation....

...that's our Reader.

Thankfully, most Fortune 500 companies are silent on social policies and focus on.....running the business.
Which is as it should be.

Try that approach sometime.

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