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IRS jobs to be cut at center

June 05, 2004|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Up to 170 U.S. Internal Revenue Service employees in Berkeley County, W.Va., could lose their jobs next year, but other jobs will be added, creating a net gain, a department spokesman said Friday.

However, the reorganization plan is sketchy, leaving employees confused and concerned, said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union in Washington, D.C.

The union represents about 700 IRS workers at the Martinsburg Computing Center near Kearneysville, W.Va.

"Employees have been in an uncertain state for a couple of years," Kelley said.

In the fall of 2005, the IRS plans to cut hundreds of administrative and clerical jobs at its three computing centers - Martinsburg, Detroit and Memphis, Tenn. - and replace them with more technical "front-line" positions, department spokesman Terry Lemons said.

About 750 jobs will be cut at the three centers, but after new positions are created and filled, the net loss will be 129 jobs, he said.

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At the Martinsburg Computing Center, there will be a net gain, meaning more jobs will be created than will be cut, Lemons said. He was not able to pinpoint the net gain.

By next year, the estimate of 170 job cuts at the Martinsburg Computing Center might be lower, Lemons said.

None of that comforts members of the union, which on Wednesday received a list of 500 positions in Martinsburg that will be "affected" by the "reduction in force" plan, Kelley said.

Jobs on that list include computer operators, information technology specialists and management analysts.

She said the IRS has sent the union numerous "reduction in force" notices in the last year and all have been vague.

Therefore, "I would tell (employees) to keep your ears open and pursue any opportunities (for other jobs)," Kelley said.

Lemons said the list shows positions that may either be cut or changed.

About 1,100 people work at the Martinsburg Computing Center, either as employees or by contract, according to Lemons. The center processes and keeps business and individual tax information.

Kelley said the union will push right away for meetings with the IRS to discuss the reorganization plan.

One question, she said, is why the IRS has devised a "firing and hiring" plan instead of retraining employees to do different work.

Lemons said he didn't know enough about the situation to comment on the training question.

He also couldn't comment on whether fired employees will be eligible to apply for new jobs.

Martinsburg Computing Center employees shouldn't interpret the job cuts and additions as a sign of deficiency, he said.

"They do some of our most important tax administration work at the facility," he said. "We see a strong future in Martinsburg."

"It's not an easy decision," Lemons added. "But in the end, we have to make sure we are devoting our resources in the proper ways."

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