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Convergys to lose up to 200 jobs as client leaves Watertown call center

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WATERTOWN — The Convergys call center on Arsenal Street may cut up to 200 employees in 90 days because it has lost a contract with one of its clients in the telecommunications industry, the company said Friday.

The contract with the undisclosed client will end July 31, according to Joseph Thornton, company spokesman. Convergys, which recently acquired Stream Global Services, will attempt to retain those employees by securing contracts with other clients, Mr. Thornton said. He said the decision made by the client was not related to the acquisition of Stream by Convergys.

“The decision could impact up to 200 positions, but Convergys is working with existing clients and potential new clients to bring new lines of business to the Watertown site,” Mr. Thornton said of the call center, which changed its name from Stream to Convergys in March. “The objective would be to offset this as much as possible. It is unknown at this point how many impacted positions could migrate to other new work, or existing client work. It’s not unusual that clients ramp up and ramp down, and we were required to notify employees that this is a possibility.”

Convergys has submitted a federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice, which is required before a plant closing or a mass layoff at a single site when at least 50 full-time workers will be laid off, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Convergys call center, which now has about 800 employees, would drop its staff size to 600 if it is unable to retain staffers who are employed by the outgoing client. The news comes after company officials said in March they were optimistic that the staff size could grow to up to 1,000 employees by the end of the year. To increase the seating capacity at the center from 700 to 1,000 employees, Stream decided in 2013 to invest in a $4.2 million expansion project at the call center, before the Convergys buyout. That project was finished in December.

Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said he learned from local officials that the company is negotiating with three potential clients. Jobs slated for the chopping block could be retained if Convergys is able to secure additional clients, he said.

“They fully expect to have at least one or two of those companies locate in Watertown,” Mr. Alexander said. “The warn notice is for 90 days, which means they might be able to transfer these people to other clients, and they would be trained and ready to go.”

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