First Data lays off 60 workers in Hagerstown

November 16, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN - First Data Merchant Services in Hagerstown laid off about 60 workers Thursday, according to company spokeswoman Nancy Etheredge.

Reports that the layoffs were part of a larger work-force cut of 300 to 500 jobs in the Hagerstown offices were described as "untrue" by Etheredge.

"Those were rumors; these are the facts," Etheredge said as she explained that the company was laying off 3 percent of its about 2,000 employee Hagerstown work force. The layoffs were effective immediately.

Etheredge said workers at all levels of the credit-card processing company were being let go. The layoffs in Hagerstown were part of a larger, company-wide reduction of about 6 percent of the total work force, or roughly 1,800 people.


Thursday's layoffs were only the most recent for the Hagerstown offices, where more than 200 workers have lost their jobs in the last two years.

The Herald-Mail reported that First Data laid off about 110 local workers last March with no notice. Those layoffs came one month before the company was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., a private equity firm, for $29 billion.

First Data laid off about 10 Hagerstown workers in April 2006 and 50 in December 2005.

Personnel reductions are a component of what the company has called its "100-day plan," which includes international expansion and "cost-saving initiatives," according to a press release.

A September Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed that First Data was planning to consolidate its 12 data centers into three and reduce from seven to three the command centers that oversee data operations in the next few years, according to the Associated Press.

Etheredge said the layoffs and changes have been necessary to keep the company viable.

"We operate in a very competitive market and have to go through periodic reassessments," Etheredge said.

Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said he heard about the layoffs Thursday afternoon.

"It's unfortunate for the people losing their jobs. But the indications are that Hagerstown will remain a significant hub for First Data," Troxell said.

Etheredge concurred, calling Hagerstown a "key site" for the company.

First Data will offer the "standard" severance package for laid-off workers, which in most cases will be three weeks pay, Etheredge said.

The company also will offer outplacement services to the laid-off workers.

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