First Data idles more than 100 workers

March 29, 2007|By DAN DEARTH


More than 100 employees reported to work at First Data Merchant Services Thursday morning only to discover that they no longer had jobs.

Jim Green, First Data spokesman, said Thursday afternoon that about 110 employees were part of a "reduction in force."

"This was not an easy decision," he said. "First Data truly cares about its approximately 2,000 employees in Hagerstown and approximately 29,000 employees globally."

A handful of employees who lost their jobs gathered at a Hagerstown tavern for lunch shortly after learning they were unemployed.


They spoke under condition of anonymity, saying First Data requires its employees to sign nondisclosure statements as a condition of being hired.

One former employee said First Data issued no warning or severance pay to the workers.

"We found out at 8 this morning," the employee said.

Green said First Data will hold an in-house job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today to determine which of the former employees have the necessary skills to fill "our many open positions in Hagerstown."

Asked if the jobs were terminated without warning, Green said, "Throughout this process, we remain committed to treating people with dignity and respect, as we always do."

All of the workers will receive three weeks' pay and benefits, he said.

Green said First Data will work with the former employees to help them identify other possible job opportunities within the company.

In addition, an undisclosed number of the former employees will get a severance package based on their respective positions and tenure with the company, he said.

First Data decided to cut the positions to "strengthen the service we provide to our clients," Green said.

Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said he learned of the job losses Thursday around lunchtime.

"Even with this reduction, First Data still remains one of the largest employers in the county," he said.

Troxell said First Data has about 80 jobs that are available in Washington County.

It's possible that some of the people who lost their jobs might find work locally at Citicorp near the Pennsylvania border, he said.

Most of the former workers interviewed Thursday by The Herald-Mail said they were telemarketers.

First Data processes credit and debit cards for financial institutions and other issuers of cards, according to the company Web site.

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