2 VPs Leave As Staff Reductions At AT&T Hit All Levels
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Staff cutbacks at American Telephone & Telegraph Co., widely reported to be primarily aimed at middle management, have hit two corporate vice presidents, a company spokesman said on Monday.
Thomas J. Berry, vice president data systems and David Mitchell, another vice president in AT&T’s financial organization, each took early retirement under a plan announced Sept. 18 that would grant 5 percent of a year’s pay for each year served with AT&T, up to a full year’s salary.
In announcing the retirement bonus plan, an AT&T memo to employees said those deemed surplus and asked to leave probably would be forced to leave if they did not take advantage of the program.
In the past, acceptance of AT&T retirement enticements was voluntary.
Berry, who was named executive assistant to the postmaster general last week, had 34 years with the Bell System and qualified for normal company retirement benefits plus the top retirement bonus of a year’s pay.
Almost all AT&T vice presidents make more that $100,000 in annual compensation.
It could not be immediately learned how long Mitchell had been with AT&T.
Confirmation of the retirements came following a story in Communications Week that said firings of top AT&T executives were imminent.
AT&T Washington spokesman Herb Linnen, who provided information on Mitchell and Berry, vigorously denied a part of the story that chairmen and vice chairmen of AT&T units ″will be tapped on the shoulder and will be told that we have too many, and they will be asked to leave.″
He objected to the story’s implication that cuts were coming at the very top of the AT&T hierarchy. However, he did say ″officers are in no special category here.″
AT&T employes 150 corporate presidents, vice presidents , chairmen and vice chairmen.
Linnen did not know how many employees at lower levels had left under the plan.
The phone company has been ″downsizing″ since the breakup of the Bell System almost three years ago. The work force has been reduced by more than 44,000 - more than half by layoffs.