March 17, 2007 in City

Bank cuts 206 jobs at Spokane call center

By The Spokesman-Review
 

by the numbers

Remaining jobs

“After the reductions, Bank of America will employ roughly 600 people in Spokane.

“About 220 of those are inside 12 Spokane-area branches, and others perform various bank support services.

Bank of America will cut 206 Spokane call-center jobs and move them to Southern California, the company announced Friday.

Workers in Spokane learned the jobs – all handling questions from bank credit card holders – would shut down in two to three months, spokeswoman Colleen Haggerty said.

The jobs range from office managers to line workers, Haggerty said.

After the reductions, the bank will have roughly 600 Spokane jobs, she added. About 220 of those are inside 12 Spokane-area branches; others perform various bank support services.

An unspecified number of bank call-center jobs will also remain in Spokane for the time being, Haggerty said. She noted there are no plans for further reductions in Spokane’s call-center group.

The reductions are a result of the 2006 merger of MBNA and Bank of America. At the time of the deal, Bank of America officials predicted roughly 6,000 jobs nationwide would be eliminated.

The Spokane jobs have been consolidated with another call-center group in Orange County in Southern California, Haggerty said. News stories have pointed out that Bank of America has broadened its efforts to encourage Spanish-speaking citizens to sign up for its credit cards and other services. The Los Angeles center for Bank of America is one of several the bank operates with a large number of Spanish-speaking workers.

Haggerty said Spokane workers losing their jobs could apply for other Bank of America positions in Spokane and elsewhere. Those not rehired will get job search assistance and a severance payment, she said.

Spokane’s Bank of America call center opened in the 1980s and at one time employed more than 500 people.

Kurt Walsdorf, a Bank of America executive, has made contact with other area companies in an effort to find jobs for laid-off workers who want to remain in the area.

“We’re working with the Spokane chamber of commerce to make sure we help find options for our workers,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty said she couldn’t say how much the workers losing their jobs earned.

“They cover a range, from managerial levels on down,” she said.

Credit cards will continue as one of Bank of America’s major business operations, according to recent company financial statements.

Because of its recent acquisitions, Bank of America has come up against a regulatory cap that bars any U.S. bank from an acquisition that would give it more than 10 percent of the nation’s total bank deposits.

The result is an increased effort by the bank to persuade people to take out new credit cards and to encourage existing checking account customers to apply for credit cards.


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