American Telephone and Telegraph Co. yesterday confirmed that it has contingency plans that could lead to significant layoffs but insisted that it has no intention of implementing them anytime soon.
"We've been looking across the board for ways to drive costs out," an AT&T spokesman said. "Everybody's got contingency plans but there's nothing that would call for layoffs at this time."
However, the company said that AT&T Information Systems Chairman Robert E. Allen told employes in a meeting Wednesday that "we must achieve additional significant cost reductions in every part of our company which inevitably will translate into fewer work assignments, fewer work locations and fewer workers."
Particular attention is being focused on AT&T's Information Systems group, which produces the company's computer and office telephone switching equipment, because of the industrywide slump in computers. There have been unconfirmed reports that more than 10,000 jobs could be eliminated in the group. Neither Allen nor an AT&T Information Systems spokesman would state at what time or how deep future layoffs would be.
However, AT&T spokesmen confirm the existence of the 1985 Surplus Force Reduction Plan that they said is a "contingency plan" to reduce employment. The plan would offer early retirement benefits or transfers to managerial employes.
One AT&T source who asked not to be named said that at least 1,500 to 2,000 managerial employes -- roughly 5 percent of the management work force -- were expected to leave the company this year through the plan.
But AT&T Communications spokesman Jerry Santos insisted that, "While we do have plans in place, it's really to address surplus in individual departments as they come up. We have no companywide plans at AT&T Communications or projections that call for large force reductions."
Layoff concerns at AT&T have intensified in the wake of GTE Sprint Communications Corp.'s announced layoff of 600 employes in September.