AT&T call center workers are fighting for their jobs

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Two AT&T call centers near Atwater are scheduled to close next month. (KFSN)

Two AT&T call centers near Atwater are scheduled to close next month. But the employees and a Valley congressman are asking the company to re-consider.

Kimberly Martinez is getting one of her last meals at Gracian's Mexican restaurant on the former Castle Air Force Base. The owners are closing up shop and looking for a new location after only one year in business -- because 80 to 90 percent of their customers are AT&T employees who are set to lose their jobs.

Erika Huerta with Gracian's Mexican Restaurant said, "It's really hard because you're barely getting used to knowing your customers, you're getting comfortable now you have to leave."

Martinez is one of the nearly 400 AT&T workers who received 60 day notices late last month.

"I've been with the company over 13 years, and it's a little surprising that it's shutting down," said Martinez. "You rely on your job and you hope it's not going to close, but they made a decision to close us so I don't really know what we can do at this point."

But many of the employees are now fighting to keep their jobs. They're writing letters to AT&T and asking community members to do the same.

Congressman Jim Costa also wrote a letter urging the company to keep the call centers open. He says the closures would result in the largest private sector layoff in Merced County in more than two decades.

"All you can do is hope," said Martinez. "You don't really know if it's going to work or not."

AT&T is the single largest employer at Castle Commerce Center, and the call centers have been there since 1997.

Mark Hendrickson, the county's director of community and economic development says losing them would be a major blow, but he's already looking for other opportunities.

Hendrickson said, "We right now have a razor sharp focus on what can we do so as to bring in a new opportunity should AT&T in fact continue their plans to depart the area."

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merced countyeconomyemploymentAT&TAtwater
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