Allied Wireless Jobs Safe for Now After AT&T Sale

Employees of Allied Wireless Communications Corp. of Little Rock, which is being purchased by AT&T Inc. in a $780 million transaction announced in January, are learning more about the job prospects under the new owner.

Allied Wireless, led by CEO Frank O’Mara, operates a retail wireless business under the Alltel name that has 585,000 customers in rural areas of six states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho. The company was assembled from assets Verizon had to divest after its 2009 purchase of Alltel Corp. of Little Rock. Alltel has been owned by Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. of Beverly, Mass., which is now selling the business to AT&T.

Those Alltel employees have been wondering about possible layoffs since the deal was announced in January. On May 23, they received a letter from AT&T outlining what to expect as the likely closing date for the purchase, Sept. 1, approaches.

In the letter obtained by Arkansas Business, AT&T says it doesn’t plan any terminations “due to workforce adjustments or surplus” for the remainder of 2013. It said that after the sale closes, the “vast majority” of Alltel workers will “continue to perform the same jobs you are performing today and will transition into an AT&T title with the comparable AT&T management job classification.”

It also said employees’ period of Alltel service will be recognized by AT&T for purposes of its benefits plan and vesting requirements, and Alltel workers will be immediately eligible for coverage under AT&T’s health and welfare plans with no waiting period.

AT&T says employees who are eventually terminated will have 60 days to apply for other positions within AT&T, and terminated employees will receive a cash payment equal to two weeks’ salary for each full year of service, up to a maximum of 52 weeks’ salary. Those employees would also be eligible for up to six months’ of subsidized COBRA media coverage.

In an e-mail accompanying the AT&T letter, O’Mara told Alltel workers that the letter gives “a great indication of the fairness and straightforwardness with which [AT&T intends] to approach this transition.”