Static: Wednesday, August 15, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
As the WorldCom Turns

Who needs scary Hollywood movies when we have Worldcom, a horror story with more installments than Friday the 13th? Now there’s help available for fans trying — with morbid fascination — to keep track of all the tendrils of this terror vine.

A company called SaveOnPhone is devoting part of its web site to a Worldcom watch, keeping track of media coverage and developments concerning the telecommunications conglomerate. (SaveOnPhone analyzes and ranks long-distance service plans. They make money from phone companies, but say their rankings are done by independent analyses.) The Worldcom pages (www.worldcomnews.com) were created because of an overwhelming number of inquiries to the site.

Among the site’s tidbits: Although Worldcom bigwigs claim they knew nothing of allegedly illegal accounting machinations, a shareholder lawsuit filed over a year ago in Mississippi (Worldcom’s birthplace) details reports on some of those practices, reports that allegedly went straight to top management. Another: Former employees have now banded together in a group called ExWorldcom 5100 (the number of employees fired in June) seeking full payment of severance pay and benefits thus far denied them. One link on the page is called “Litigation Station,” showing the loooong list of folks lunging at Worldcom’s pantaloons.

One e-mail from an Ex-Worldcommer sounds distressingly like the story of budget analyst Kim Emigh, detailed in Fort Worth Weekly (“Accounting for Anguish,” May 16, 2002). Like Emigh, the worker signed a release as a condition of receiving badly needed severance pay. The writer said that salaried employees were denied their final week’s regular pay and that agreed-to severance pay has never arrived. “My family is suffering,” the ex-telecommer wrote. “We’re going to lose our home.”

It took Emigh 14 months after Worldcom let him go to find a new job. This week, however, he, too, is hitting the bricks again. When his new employer lost a major account, Emigh’s position went out the door with it.

Don’t think any of this concerns you? Consider this: Worldcom operates about half the wires carrying the internet worldwide and handles 30 to 50 percent of U.S. long distance and corporate communications. The web page warns that layoffs could slow down internet service.

Ouch! Static already spends two hours a day downloading Jennifer Lopez photos. Slower internet service might stretch that to four hours. Add an hour for lunch, an hour of cigarette breaks and sneaking out early each afternoon — that leaves no time for Static to write a column. Maybe the boss will pay overtime.

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