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Nielsen's Oldsmar facility cuts 57 jobs, some for outsourcing

OLDSMAR — In the past 30 months, the Nielsen Co. has had multiple rounds of layoffs and let go of several hundred employees in Dunedin and Oldsmar.

Wednesday, the ax fell again and the TV ratings company trimmed 57 more positions at its Oldsmar facility.

"It was part of an ongoing process to improve Nielsen's productivity, to respond to our shifting client needs and to preserve high value jobs in a difficult economy," company spokesman Gary Holmes said.

About half of the jobs were cut for "efficiency reasons," he said. The other half will be outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services in India.

"There are some functions that can be performed more efficiently in other locations," Holmes said. "That allows us to do the high value work in our global technology center in Oldsmar."

For years, Nielsen received millions in state and local subsidies to create jobs. Local jobs, that is.

When the downsizing started, some local workers were replaced by Tata employees. Some Oldsmar officials became incensed. Lou Dobbs, formerly of CNN, blasted Nielsen on national television. The incentives from Oldsmar and Pinellas County stopped.

Nielsen remains Oldsmar's largest employer. But with the latest cuts, its workforce has been reduced to 2003 levels. A company that once counted 1,800 employees now has a payroll of about 1,250. Another 400 contractors — some who work for Tata — are on-site.

No additional job cuts are planned, but there's no guarantee the trims will end either.

"We've said from the beginning that this is a process that never ends, that we're constantly evaluating how to be as productive and responsible to our clients as possible," Holmes said. "We're no different than any other company that's operating in this economy and the global environment."

No one was let go from a call center in Dunedin this week and nothing significant has happened there since a reorganization last summer.

News of the Oldsmar layoffs was met with mixed reactions from city and business leaders.

"They're our biggest employer," Mayor Jim Ronecker said. "Anytime anybody loses a job, whether it's someone at Joe's Barbershop or someone at Nielsen, we hate to see that."

Jerry Custin, head of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, had not heard about the layoffs.

"Job loss is concerning to us," he said. "Hopefully the market will turn around."

Vice Mayor Jerry Beverland was upset when he learned that some of the lost jobs would be outsourced.

But "here's another way to look at the Nielsen Co.," he said. "They're still here. Hallelujah."

Information from Times files was used in this report. Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Nielsen's Oldsmar facility cuts 57 jobs, some for outsourcing 11/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 8:02pm]
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