|Six NEFCOM employees lose jobs amid changing markets|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 09 November 2011 11:03|
NEFCOM, the Macclenny-based telephone and Internet company, shed a handful of employees last month, and while they weren’t given much notice, some said they weren’t surprised due to increased competition in recent years from cable giant Comcast.
Six workers including the phone company’s former president and more recently consultant Leon (Toppy) Conner lost their jobs, according to two of the affected employees who spoke with The Press last week after NEFCOM general manager and former county commissioner Mike Griffis said he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
NEFCOM, formerly Northeast Florida Telephone Company, was bought by Arkansas-based Townes Tele-Communications in 1998.
“It’s competition is what it boils down to,” said Jessalyn Thrift of Macclenny, who lost her sales job after 25 years with NEFCOM. “It’s Comcast moving into our service area with video, phone and Internet all bundled together in a package deal.”
Ms. Thrift, 46, said some of the laid off workers were eligible for early retirement benefits and she understands why NEFCOM cut the jobs.“I’m not surprised,” she said, adding that NEFCOM’s lack of television service made it difficult to keep customers, particularly those who abandon their land-line telephones.
“As far as service goes, I think we got them beat,” said Ms. Thrift. “We’re local. If anyone has a problem, we’re there to fix it within a few hours.”
She intends to search for another job, preferably one close to home.
Like Ms. Thrift, laid off plant manager Ralph Blume doesn’t harbor any ill will toward the company or its other employees. But, he said, he would’ve liked more time to prepare for unemployment.
“The biggest thing was how they done it,” said Mr. Blume, 57. “I walked in Friday morning to go to work and they called me in to say your job’s been eliminated. It’s been downsized. You can basically go home. There was no warning. No severance.”
Mr. Blume worked for the telephone company for 37 years and was among those eligible for early retirement. Still, he doesn’t want to retire, he said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Mr. Blume. “I have a couple of little jobs I’m looking at right now, but they’re not in the phone business.”
The NEFCOM layoffs took place October 7, and Mr. Blume said they were among some 22 jobs cut at Town Tele-Communications subsidiaries. Townes owns seven other telephone companies, according to its website.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:39|