On Monday, about 170 workers at SBC in Tulsa will have to decide if they're willing to relocate to Kansas City.
The company announced last month it was moving the jobs out of Oklahoma. And that's angered many state lawmakers. As News on Six business reporter Steve Berg explains, they say the phone company made "phony" claims to Oklahoma.
Somewhere along the line, the two sides got their wires crossed. "I've never been misled like this particularly by a large reputable company, that's what's frustrating about it." The company is SBC. And a couple of years ago, it wanted Oklahoma to pass the Broadband Parity Bill. But it isn't as important what the "bill" does as what State Senator Stratton Taylor of Claremore says SBC was going to do. In exchange for the bill, Taylor says the company told the state it would invest more in Oklahoma and try to keep jobs here.
So why he and others are asking, is the company moving 170 good-paying jobs out of Tulsa? "You can call it a bait and switch, or acting not in good faith, or deceptive, there's a lot of things." The company "is" continuing to invest new "equipment" in Oklahoma.
In a response, the company said, "We remain committed to our Oklahoma broadband build-out and it is continuing and on-schedule." But they say "a year ago when we announced the broadband initiative, no one could have predicted the unprecedented challenges facing our industry." Union president Dave Ratcliff, who represents the SBC workers, says he's not buying it. "The economy is bad everywhere, moving these jobs to Kansas City or to Dallas, Texas does not get away from the economy problems." Senator Taylor agrees, saying that if the economy was only to blame, SBC would just layoff the people in Tulsa, not move them to Kansas City.
"In many ways, they're a very good corporate citizen, they're very involved in a lot of things in this state, but they clearly mislead us." Taylor says SBC is pushing for a similar law in Kansas.
He tells Kansas lawmakers don't believe what the company tells you.