Layoffs anticipated in NM Gas Co. buyout plan

Posted at: 01/10/2014 9:13 PM
Updated at: 01/10/2014 10:18 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Florida company TECO Energy is currently in talks to acquire New Mexico Gas Company.

The sale still needs approval from the Public Regulation Commission, which is at least months away, but some NMGC workers are already worrying about what could happen to their jobs if the deal goes through. Recently filed testimony by a TECO executive shows 20 percent of employees could be affected.

"We asked that company consistently, 'what are your plans for employees,' and we've gotten absolutely no response until we read the testimony by D. Brown," one worker told KOB Eyewitness News 4.

The testimony was filed with the PRC on Dec. 31. It detailed how TECO would run New Mexico Gas, as well as laying out the expected benefits for customers. Those include promises that customers won't have to pay for costs of the acquisition, that customer-facing personnel would remain in New Mexico for at least a year, and that the company will engage in economic development opportunities. It also projected that 136 current New Mexico Gas employees will lose their jobs.

"The first thing that went through my mind was complete shock," the worker said.

TECO says those are just preliminary numbers, that the cuts would likely be three years away, and that all fired employees would get severance packages.

The worker says she understands cutting costs and knows moving some jobs to Florida makes sense. She just wishes she would have learned about the plan directly from TECO, not from a document filed with a state agency.

"We have people in the company that have 20, 30, 37 years of experience and I wish that that would be valued," she said. "That would really be my hope. That we would be part of this company that would be valued and the employees and it would stay in New Mexico. We are New Mexico Gas Company."

Most of the jobs that could go away are in customer service.