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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ AT&T is eliminating 71 phone operator jobs in New Haven and Waterbury as customers increasingly find phone numbers online or by using their smart phones.

Spokesman Marty Richter said the company expects it will not lay off the workers because most or all of the operators will likely accept voluntary severance packages that include severance pay and six months of paid health insurance.

William Henderson, president of Local 1298 of the Communications Workers of America, which represents the employees, said AT&T will keep operator service centers in Hamden and New London open.

Richter said technology and the increasing use of smartphones have cut the volume of directory assistance calls by 63 percent nationwide over the last three years.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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