US WEST Communications said today it will eliminate 297 jobs in eight cities - including Salt Lake City - as part of ongoing restructuring.

Local US WEST spokesman Duane Cooke said the jobs of 19 Salt Lake City employees who custom-design telecommunications systems for businesses will be eliminated in the move. The company was planning to tell workers about the cuts today."We face heavy competition in this (designed services) area," Cooke said.

He said the reorganization, along with process and pricing changes, are designed to help US WEST better serve customers' needs.

The affected employees will be offered severance packages, Cooke said, and they also may apply for 90 job openings US WEST has in other departments in Salt Lake City.

"These employees are highly skilled," he said. "This is kind of a reorganization or restructuring. Ultimately, the idea is to move more people closer to the customers."

Cooke said none of the local employees who are losing their jobs are in management. Overall, 288 of the cuts will be to non-management employees, and nine to managers.

The cities hit hardest by the cuts will be Minneapolis and Seattle, which will lose 123 and 112 jobs, respectively, he said. Also taking cuts will be US WEST operations in Albuquerque; Des Moines, Iowa; Denver; Olympia, Wash.; and Phoenix.