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Stream to lose contract in January with longstanding tech client, employee says

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Stream Global Services will lose its client contract with Salesforce.com at the end of January, a move that will affect anywhere from 60 to 80 employees who will be shifted to other jobs at the Watertown call center or decide to leave the company, according to a current employee.

It’s unclear how the loss of the business software company as a client will affect the hiring strategy at Stream, which is completing a $4.2 million expansion project that will offer room for up to 1,000 employees. The company, which now has about 700 employees, reported at a Watertown job fair in November that it planned to hire about 150 new employees as soon as possible because of its clients’ expansion plans. Stream reported Wednesday that it hired 64 employees this week and plans to hire 87 more in January. But it did not disclose any information about its fallout with Salesforce or how that could affect hiring plans.

The employee, interviewed on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal by his employer, said Stream has had a contract for about 10 years to provide customer service for Salesforce, which specializes in cloud-computing technology. The San Francisco-based company has given Stream representatives an opportunity to apply for job openings at its new location launched this year in Hillsboro, Ore., a suburb of Portland, the source said. Employees who stay on with Stream will start new positions at the call center by working for its clients in the entertainment, financial services and telecommunications industries.

A “handful of employees” has already been interviewed and hired by Salesforce, the employee said, and will relocate to Oregon. Employees who will be shifted to new positions at Stream are concerned because their hourly wage likely will drop to $9 based on their entry-level status, the source said; they made $10 to $12.75 per hour under the Salesforce contract.

“Salesforce was the highest-paying contract on the site, and there are people who will be going down to $9 an hour wages who support families,” the worker said. “They don’t know how we’re going to survive, and as I understand it, $9 an hour is the best we can look forward to” with different clients.

Stream refused to divulge information about its clients because of confidentiality agreements.

“As part of our normal course of business, Stream routinely ramps (employment) for new or expanded business at its site locations, and client workloads are readjusted from time to time,” Joseph Thornton, director of corporate communications, said in a prepared statement. “At the moment, Stream in Watertown is hiring for a wide range of customer support and sales positions representing clients in telecommunications and entertainment.”

Salesforce may have decided to abandon the Watertown location because of the relatively high cost of doing business, the employee said. Salesforce also has a contract with a call center headquartered in Teaneck, N.J., named Cognizant Technology Solutions, one of Stream’s competitors.

Stream “seems to be somewhat upset by this news,” the source said. “We’ve been struggling throughout the year to keep this contract and show that the other location couldn’t be as competitive as we were. It looks like Salesforce is going with a cheaper option, because that’s what all of the evidence points to. Over the past year, it seemed like Salesforce was making more and more concessions toward our competitor despite the fact that their quality of service was not improving. But in the end they decided to go with the other company, because as rumor has it, they’re cheaper in terms of wages and whatever the company is charging Salesforce.”

Salesforce.com, founded in 1999, has about 10,000 employees companywide. Its other major offices are in Toronto, New York City, London, Sydney, Dublin, Hyderabad, India, and San Mateo, Calif.

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