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AT&T Will Cut Middle Ranks With Incentives

September 19, 1986|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Several major U.S. corporations on Thursday reported plans to lay off large numbers of employees.

American Telephone & Telegraph said it is asking its senior managers to trim their management staffs as part of a "new, hard look" at the company's overall costs.

Company spokesman Walter Murphy said the company's top executives had not set a numerical goal for work force reductions. Senior managers have been asked to decide if there is any managerial fat to cut, he said.

However, Frank Governali, an analyst with Kidder, Peabody & Co., said AT&T probably hopes to eliminate the jobs of "many thousands of people" through incentives.

Incentive Offered

Senior managers have been authorized to offer selected lower-level managers a payment of 5% of their salary for each year with the company, up to 20 years, if they leave voluntarily, Murphy said.

Governali said the program is more evidence that the company is serious about saving money and said he considers the stock a good long-term investment.

If resignations are not enough to achieve the unit's goal for work force reductions, the senior managers are authorized to lay off managers and give them the same payment, he said.

Managers make up about 100,000 of AT&T's total work force of roughly 330,000, Murphy said.

Since it was divested of its regional phone companies in the 1984 breakup of the Bell System, AT&T said it has eliminated about 45,000 jobs, mostly among bluecollar workers.

In another corporate cost-cutting move, reports published on Thursday said ITT is trimming its 900-person New York headquarters staff by at least half in connection with the company's sale of a majority interest in its telecommunications operations to Compagnie Generale d'Electricite, a state-owned French company.

Retain Minority Interest

The CGE deal, which was announced earlier this summer, was expected to be completed by year-end.

As part of the deal, ITT would retain a minority interest in the venture, which aims to become a world power in telecommunications equipment.

Some of the ITT employees, who range from executives to secretaries, may be granted early retirement, but most of those affected will simply be laid off, the New York Times quoted sources as saying.

In Detroit, General Motors said it had placed 1,000 workers in its U.S. factory system on indefinite layoff, effective next week.

The layoffs increase to 19,000 the number of workers on indefinite layoffs. A General Motors spokesman said he had no breakdown of the affected plants.

Northwest Airlines also reported that nearly 800 of its employees are being laid off and hundreds more may have to relocate to keep their jobs as the carrier combines with Republic Airlines, union officials said.

Layoff notices have been sent to at least 300 mechanics, baggage handlers and station agents, Guy Cook, president of the International Assn. of Machinists, estimated on Wednesday.

The reductions are "part of the orderly realignment of the work force leading up to the combined operating schedule, which will go into effect Oct. 1," Northwest spokesman William Wren said in a published report.

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