DENVER Up to 700 Qwest technicians and others who work on Qwest's traditional land lines have been offered voluntary buyouts.
Qwest Communications International Inc. on Tuesday announced the job cuts as the company sees thousands of customers abandon their traditional phone lines in favor of other forms of services, including those offered through wireless and cable companies.
The buyouts are being offered to less than 2 percent of Qwest's total work force of 36,843.
Based in Denver, Qwest is the primary telephone service provider in 14 mostly Western states and operates a fiber optic network. It has 12.78 million land lines, a number that dropped 7.3 percent last year from the total in 2006.
"That's an industrywide trend," said Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs. "Everybody in the business has been facing that in light of competition."
The offer is expected to be completed March 27.
Bob Tregemba, the company's executive vice president of network operations, said the company over the years has first tried to use its natural attrition rate to balance the work load.
The buyouts were negotiated with the Communication Workers of America union to provide a voluntary opportunity for those considering either retirement or moving on and would be based on years of service.
"We are always saddened by the loss of even one job, but the continued loss of access lines is a reality of the entire industry," said union official Reed Roberts in a joint statement issued by Qwest.
The company did not release any details on how much the job cuts will cost or how much the company expects to save.
Qwest stock rose about 15 cents, or 3 percent, to $4.65 a share during early afternoon trading.