The Comcast call center in Morgan Hill announced today they are closing their doors Nov. 30, leaving hundreds jobless.
The announcement was made at a closed-door meeting at the Community and Cultural Center on Monterey Street in Morgan Hill Tuesday morning, in front of about 300 employees of a publicly traded business that's one of the largest cable operators and home web providers in the country.
Employees filed out of the meeting room around 10:30 a.m. - some with despondent looks on their faces and others were crying and being consoled with a hug or hand on their shoulder. Many, however, saw the writing on the wall.
In April, Comcast cut 200 jobs to its Northern California branch, many of which came from the Morgan Hill location.
"We expected it. We knew it was coming. We just weren't exactly sure when," said one employee outside the CCC. She and several other employees wished to remain anonymous.
The woman had been an employee for 15 years and her co-worker for 10 years.
"This is where I was interviewed," she said, referring to the CCC. "And this is where I was laid off."
The employees did say it was a relief to finally know the details of their future - as they had watched their co-workers get laid off earlier in the year.
"It wasn't a huge surprise," one employee said. They said there was no big reaction out of the crowd of about 300 who attended the meeting Tuesday, where they learned the details of their severance options and relocation assistance.
The Comcast call center opened in Morgan Hill in 2004 at 18665 Madrone Parkway. According to past stories, they hired about 400 employees when it opened.
"It was a business decision," another employee said. "They can do it cheaper by outsourcing."
"Yeah, they're sending jobs to Mexico," an employee standing nearby said.
The jobs are being outsourced to Texas, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Minnesota, according to a call center employee who attended the meeting but asked to remain anonymous.
"They didn't admit this, but it's all about getting cheaper labor. That's why they're doing this," the employee said by phone.
According to documents given to the laid off employees that were obtained by the Times, employees have three "options for transition."
They can choose to transition into a Comcast job with relocation assistance of $3,000 and a $1,000 performance "bonus"; transition to another functional role with a $1,000 bonus; transition out of the business with four-week minimum severance and a $1,000 bonus. Employees must make their decision by Oct. 1, according to the document.
Given the different levels of employee status at Comcast, the severance calculation varies.
Each employee was given a blue folder with a frequently asked questions document, severance life event guide, severance calculation information and retention bonus information.
According to a letter to its employees, Comcast also plans to close their offices in Natomas (Sacramento) and Livermore by the end of the year.
The parking lot of the CCC was more crowded than usual, with Comcast employees standing with their co-workers and talking about the news that just broke.
At least one man found a way to break the tension, as he yelled across the lot to his colleague, "Hey man, go get a job why don't ya?"
Leslie Little, assistant city manager, said the closure came as a "surprise" to her, as earlier communications with Comcast led her to believe they were doing significant layoffs but retaining a core group of employees in Morgan Hill.
"I would imagine that folks that live near Morgan Hill and work for Comcast will find the market to still be pretty tight. With unemployment as high as it is, the loss of any job is more than disappointing," Little said.
With business looking bright in Morgan Hill, as several precision machining and manufacturing companies moved into town over the past year – not to mention the opening of the 77,000-square-foot Hobby Lobby which employs 74 people – Little is hopeful that those displaced by Comcast will find alternative, local jobs.
According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.2 percent of Morgan Hill's population was unemployed as of July.
"We as a community don’t like to see anybody lose their jobs," she said.
Comcast managers could not be immediately contacted.
Check back for more details as they become available.