Sprint lays off 10 Hood River workers as part of national cuts

Ten Sprint employees in Hood River will be out of a job by Christmas because of corporate restructuring.

One of those workers is Tom Yates, who has been the public relations manager for almost 26 years. According to Yates, Sprint is making a current reduction of about 2,000 people from its total workforce, another move in the downsizing of employees that began in the mid-90s.

“I’m not unique in this, there are a lot of people facing the same challenge. It definitely is not ‘doom and gloom’ but it is change and it causes you to rethink your goals,” he said.

Yates, 55, said he is more fortunate than his younger colleagues because he has the option for early retirement if necessary.

Since his family is settled in Hood River he plans to first seek another position in the local market. However, he remains hopeful that Sprint will put him back to work in the near future.

“This is just part of that evolution of change and if the opportunity presents itself (with Sprint) I would come back but, unfortunately, it it might not be in Hood River,” he said.

Yates’ last day on the job will be Dec. 15, but he is determined to remain upbeat about the possibilities of the future. He said Sprint has helped relieve the stress of being unemployed during the holiday season by giving him and his peers a “generous” severance package.

According to a Sprint news release, the layoff of 10 out of the 214 employees in Hood River is part of the company’s immediate goal to reduce total operating expenses.

Sprint plans to cut its operating budget by 5 to 7 percent over the next three years, a savings of more than $1 billion. Yates said the poor economy and increased competition in the telecommunications market has played a role in that decision. He said it is also taking place because as services are being consolidated there is a duplication of some jobs. According to Yates, Sprint’s wireless, long-distance and local services are now being “bundled” in one package for greater efficiency. He said Sprint is cross-training its workers so that customers can eventually access all of their options with one telephone call instead of being routed to separate offices.

“We’ve just been slowly making the migration toward being ‘One Sprint’ and this is a repositioning of personnel,” said Yates.

Since 1986, Sprint has been housed in the Waucoma Center, once employing more than 300 people to field customer care and repair calls from several states. About 1995 the corporation began to streamline its operations and positions were eliminated either through attrition or layoffs.

Sprint serves more than 26 million customers in over 100 countries. The corporation employs about 68,000 workers worldwide and generates nearly $27 billion in annual revenues. Sprint has increased its distribution of local communications services from 18 to 39 states and the District of Columbia. It operates the largest 100 percent digital nationwide PCS wireless network in the United States.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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