Communication Service for the Deaf announces layoffs

Fri, Apr. 07, 2006

Communication Service for the Deaf announces layoffs

Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Fifty-four employees of Communication Service for the Deaf – including CEO Ben Soukup – have been temporarily laid off, the agency said Thursday.

The layoffs are effective in Sioux Falls and across the nation.

CSD, based in Sioux Falls, has about 3,100 employees across the nation. It provides interpretive and relay services that allow deaf and hard-of-hearing people access to telecommunications systems through video and Internet interpreters and older technology.

CSD reported more than $87 million in revenue in 2004. But recent reports from the National Exchange Carrier Association, which manages the federal fund that pays for the services of CSD and other relay providers, show less usage of some key services.

Soukup, who founded Communication Service for the Deaf out of a broom closet at the South Dakota School for the Deaf more than 30 years ago, said the nonprofit agency is not in financial trouble.

"We want to make sure we run things as efficiently and as effectively as we possibly can," he said. "None of the changes that we're implementing right now will affect the level of service that we're providing for our consumers."

He said he and some of the other executives who were laid off would keep working without pay for a short time. In 2004, Soukup made more than $850,000 in salary and deferred compensation.

"We need to change how we do business in the area of technology," Soukup said.

He said technology and changes in the company's structure forced the move. But Soukup said he hopes most if not all the employees involved will be asked back in four to six weeks and that the timing will vary by position.

"This is an exciting thing for CSD. We're thinking that a lot of positive things are going to come of this," Soukup said.

Information from: Argus Leader,


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