Won't Deviate, For Now, From 1,310-Worker Level In Hartford As Pledge Expires
June 30, 2006
By DIANE LEVICK, Courant Staff Writer
MetLife's promise to employ 1,310 people in Hartford for a year after buying Travelers Life & Annuity expires today, but Snoopy isn't pulling up stakes.
The company with the cartoon canine mascot, which has been cutting 476 local Travelers jobs, as expected, since the acquisition on July 1, 2005, says it won't deviate from the original jobs commitment - at least in the near future.
"We expect to remain at or slightly above our commitment level going forward," MetLife spokesman John Calagna said. He wouldn't say how long "going forward" might last.
New York-based MetLife had 1,352 Hartford employees at the end of May, but some new people have come on board since then, and more are being added.
Most of the 476 layoffs have already taken place, but 69 of them take effect Saturday, so MetLife will have roughly 1,310 Hartford employees as of that date.
At the same time, MetLife says it's trying to fill about 60 open positions here, including auditors, underwriters, case managers (service personnel) and business analysts.
"We're very happy with our operations in Hartford," which have "added value to the MetLife enterprise," Calagna said. "There's certainly a lot of key skills and talents we continue to utilize in Hartford."
MetLife will remain in One CityPlace, although it's looking to sub-lease parts of its space at 242 Trumbull St.
MetLife has kept its Hartford workforce above the 1,310-job level for the past year, according to company filings with the Connecticut Insurance Department.
The company says it brought about 230 new positions to Hartford in the past year, but lost an undisclosed number of Travelers employees through voluntary departures.
None of the layoffs came as a surprise to the 476 affected people, Calagna said, because they were told upfront about the fate of their jobs and many were in transitional positions.
He also said MetLife slightly surpassed its charitable giving commitment to Connecticut, donating $1.2 million here last year. The company had promised $1 million a year through 2007.
The promise of 1,310 jobs for at least one year stemmed from negotiations with Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office last year. Some critics said it wasn't a big enough or long enough commitment, and that the average salary level of jobs remaining would be lower than at Travelers.
But MetLife initially had considered leaving only 600 or 700 Travelers jobs here.
Travelers, which had about 1,800 employees in the spring of 2005, had shrunk to 1,723 as of May 31 that year - a month before the company was sold.
MetLife has said that shrinkage was largely attributable to attrition.
MetLife paid Citigroup $11.5 billion to buy Travelers and much of Citigroup's international insurance operations.
MetLife reports filed with the Connecticut Department of Labor show that 115 Travelers employees were due to be laid off immediately after the deal closed. Another 361 were scheduled to be terminated in the subsequent 12 months, in groups of two to 76.
MetLife made Hartford a center for four activities. They are underwriting and issuance of life insurance sold through independent agents and other distributors; qualified annuity operations, involving annuities bought with pretax dollars as part of a retirement plan; sales support for life and annuity sales through independent channels; and call center and processing of transactions for life insurance sold through independent distributors.
Total employment for MetLife in Connecticut was 2,590 as of May. The company already had operations in such towns as Rocky Hill, Glastonbury, and Westport before buying Travelers.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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