Amtrak has offered 500 employees at its soon-to-close call center in Southern California up to $15,000 — if they’ll relocate to Philadelphia. On the whole, they’d rather stay in Riverside.
Amtrak announced in mid-November it would be shuttering the property that has housed its California call center on Jan. 18 and putting it up for sale.
Many of the employees felt railroaded, angry that they were only given two months' notice and a strict timetable to move east, according to reports. Protests and a rally had little impact.
Nearly 40 California legislators, including U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris petitioned Amtrak CEO Richard H. Anderson to reconsider the decision. In a letter to Anderson, the senators rebuked Amtrak for moving some of the union jobs to a contracted call center in Florida for significantly less pay and benefits.
According to news reports in California, Amtrak plans to consolidate the Riverside operations with the reservation center in Philadelphia. In an email to the employees announcing the plans to close the Riverside facility, Tim Griffin, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer said that more than 90 percent of passengers make their reservations online, and that at its busiest only 25 percent of call center agents are helping customers at the same time, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Olivia Irvin, an Amtrak spokesperson, did not know how many -- if any -- of the Riverside workers had taken up the railroad on its offer to relocate cross country. Amtrak employs about 400 workers at its call center off Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.
Irvin said Amtrak recently had reached an agreement with the California workers through the Transportation Communications International Union and for "our Riverside employees who don’t want to relocate to Philadelphia, we are continuing to assist them in finding other jobs in California, including within Amtrak and outside the company.”