Omaha World Herald wrote:Central States to cut 70 in reorganization
Central States Health & Life Co. of Omaha said Thursday it will lay off more than 70 workers in the next six months as part of a reorganization plan.
The Omaha insurance company will stop marketing its supplemental health insurance products, including its Medicare supplement, cancer, critical illness and accident policies.
Workers in the company's marketing and support operations will be affected, according to a statement from Dick Kizer, chairman and president of Central States Health & Life.
The move follows the company's decision five years ago to exit the major medical insurance market, Kizer said in an interview.
The move will allow the company to emphasize its core credit protection products, including credit insurance and debt cancellation products, he said.
"We have a real market expertise and niche with the credit protection operations. Those are markets that we have been strong in for probably decades . . . With supplemental health products, a company our size couldn't effectively compete without provider networks around the country," Kizer said.
The company employs 320 workers.
Kizer said the company could add 20 to 30 workers over the next several years as it expands in the community bank and independent auto dealer markets, he said.
The company will continue to serve customers who already own supplemental medical insurance policies, he said.
Omaha World Herald wrote:Nearly 200 get notices at local factory
Connectivity Solutions Manufacturing Inc. cut nearly 200 workers at its telephone cabinets and cable factory in Omaha.
About 157 union-represented workers and 42 management positions were eliminated, according to union leaders and Traci Henry, a company spokeswoman.
The cuts reduce the plant work force from 1,000 to 800 employees.
The company said the move was part of the company's strategy to streamline operations and consolidate equipment and jobs.
"We play against some big players globally, and for us to remain competitive it's important we do what we did from a cost-efficiency standpoint," Henry said.
The cuts are the second since North Carolina's CommScope Inc. purchased the plant from Avaya Inc. in January. The company eliminated about 45 management positions in March.
The workers, represented by Local 1974 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, will receive a 30-day severance package, Henry said. Their last day was Thursday.
Managers will work through the end of the year, she said. The cuts affected managers at all levels of the company.
Union president Bernie Stopak lamented the job losses but said keeping the factory viable was important.
"We have the potential to keep this place open and to keep this place going and even to grow in the future. I don't like to see anybody lose their job . . . but if you're bleeding, you've got to stop the bleeding to get healthy," he said.
The union also negotiated retirements for about 22 employees who otherwise would have lost their jobs, Stopak said.
"We've lost a lot of people, but we have a lot of potential. We have a new parent company for the first time that actually bought us and wanted manufacturing in the U.S.," he said.
An employee who spoke on the condition that his name not be used said some managers had indicated that further cuts might occur.
Stopak acknowledged that further cuts could be possible if telecommunications sales don't rebound, but he remained optimistic that some of the workers might be recalled if business improves.
Another worker, who also spoke on the condition that her name not be used, said laid-off workers don't expect to be recalled. Many workers fear that the plant ultimately will close, she said, noting that operations are being centralized into a single building.
The employees said Comm-Scope managers told them the company has placed or plans to place three nearby buildings - a warehouse, an office building and a manufacturing facility - on the market.
Phil Armstrong, a CommScope spokesman in Hickory, N.C., said that the Omaha facility complements the company's other operations and that the layoffs and consolidation plans are part of a long-term effort to make the company operate more efficiently.
Nearly 8,000 people worked at the plant when Western Electric operated it in 1970.
The factory became part of Lucent Technologies in 1996 following the AT&T spinoff of its telephone equipment operations. Avaya Inc. bought the plant from Lucent in 2000 and then sold the plant to CommScope earlier this year.