Laid-off Pittsfield call center employees to receive assistance

Posted Oct. 11, 2011, at 7:03 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Laid-off employees at the former Global Contact Services call center will receive assistance from the state’s Rapid Response team, and have support from Maine’s congressional delegation.

GCS abruptly closed its doors at the Pittsfield call center late Friday after a client pulled its contract with the company, said George Simons, GCS vice president of marketing.

Simons declined to name the client and why the contract was pulled.

The move left 65 people without jobs.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, as well as U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, expressed sympathy and said they would do what they could to help the workers.

“The loss of these jobs in Maine during these challenging and tumultuous economic times requires us to focus on providing necessary assistance to ensure these dedicated workers have the job skills and employment resources necessary to find new work,” said Snowe in a press release. “My staff and I stand ready to assist the governor’s office, Maine [Department of Labor], and other state agencies to provide the rapid response assistance and guidance during these trying times.”

Collins echoed Snowe’s sentiments.

“This is devastating news for all of the workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. My office will assist these dislocated workers and their families in any way possible. We have already reached out to state labor and local agencies and we will work together to help the workers with new job searches, and to identify job retraining and support services.”

Maine Department of Labor press secretary Adam Fisher said Rapid Response Assistance will be helping workers with unemployment, health care resources, wages owed and answering questions. A date and location has not yet been set.

Pittsfield Town Manager Kathryn Ruth also was disappointed in the loss of one of the town’s larger employers.

“This was a surprise to the [GCS] manager and a surprise to everybody. This is not something that we would’ve wanted to have done,” said Ruth. “I don’t think we’ve seen economic times like we’ve been in. They didn’t have enough work to keep them open.”

Ruth said GCS had as many as 110 employees at its peak.

After an ICT Group call center moved from Pittsfield to Canada in 2003, the town was active in bringing in another call center to fill the void. Ruth said GCS won the bid.

“At the time we competed for the call center in 2008, they had never shut down one of their centers,” said Ruth.

Simons said the company is down to nine locations from its height of 13. A call center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was shut down on Friday, too.

Ruth added that employers in Pittsfield are hiring, and former GCS employees may be able to find work in town.

“Those hirings are done through the different training centers,” said Ruth. “UTC [Fire and Security] has been hiring. I’ve seen a number of ads lately.”

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