Waste Management to close Oak Harbor call center

OAK HARBOR — Waste Management is shutting down a customer call center in town this September and is sending layoff notices to 126 employees.

The company is consolidating call centers across the country and will move the jobs to a larger center in Phoenix, Arizona, said Robin L. Freedman, a Waste Management spokeswoman. “A few years ago the company made the decision to create these ‘Centers of Excellence’ and Phoenix is one of them,” Freedman said. “We’re transitioning our smaller call centers to these larger facilities.”

Employees in Oak Harbor can apply for a position in Phoenix or for another job with Waste Management in the area, she said.

The company is offering retention bonuses for employees who stay with the company. Those who don’t will receive severance packages and aid in job retraining.

The Oak Harbor center at 32650 Highway 20 opened in December 2008. It handled all of the calls for service or email inquiries for residential and commercial customers in the Pacific Northwest.

Those calls will be handled in Arizona. The call center there will have about 500 employees and will be housed in a campus-type setting with a cafeteria, gym, child care and other amenities, Freedman said.

The first layoffs will begin Sept. 19. The 126 employees is about a 10th of the 1,200 workers for Waste Management in Washington. The company has 2,300 employees in the Pacific Northwest.

Waste Management has 400,000 residential and commercial customers in the state.

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