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WILLIAMS Communications laying off 400


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ About 300 jobs in Tulsa and 100 worldwide have been cut in layoffs at Williams Communications Group Inc., officials said.

The Tulsa-based wholesale broadband provider reduced its Tulsa work force from 3,200 to 2,900, Jerry Carson, senior vice president of human resources, said Friday. Its companywide employment was cut from 4,500 to 4,100.

Officials began the layoffs June 29, but did not say exactly how many would be affected until Friday.

Williams Communications officials had earlier denied cuts would be necessary to maintain its growth plan. But Carson said the telecommunications firm ``would evaluate its resources periodically and adjust its work force accordingly.''

The cuts were necessary following the company's transition from a construction mode to an operational mode, said Howard Janzen, chairman and chief executive officer.

During the past few years, Williams Communications built a 33,000-mile nationwide fiber-optic network and is nearing completion of a 15-story Technology Center in downtown Tulsa. Williams Communications separated from Williams Cos. April 23.

``We have to recognize that the company has gone through quite a transition, and we have to be leaner and meaner going forward,'' Janzen said.

Employees who were laid off were given severance packages and are receiving outplacement services, Carson said.

The job cuts came at all levels of the company, officials said.

The Williams Communications announcement was one of the largest in a series of recent major telecommunications industry layoffs in Tulsa. The largest came in March when WorldCom Inc. laid off more than 400 of its 4,000 Tulsa-based employees.

Williams Communications stock closed Friday at $2.64, down 19 cents a share. The stock reached a 52-week high on July 5, 2000, at $33.50. It hit a 52-week low of $2.35 on June 19.
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