"Pruning begins at Duke Energy, Progress"
"The marriage of Duke Energy and Progress Energy will cost jobs in Charlotte and Raleigh, and the companies' top bosses have already started encouraging early retirements and attrition to minimize layoffs.
...the CEOs said they don't have a target number of job cuts in mind. But on Wednesday, Duke CEO Jim Rogers and Progress CEO Bill Johnson met with about 1,500 Progress employees in downtown Raleigh and warned them to prepare for staff reductions as the companies identify redundancies and slash costs.
Johnson, who will be CEO of the combined, Charlotte-based utility company, noted that employee insecurity will help winnow down staff this year. Some will opt to retire and others will take other jobs rather than live with uncertainty.
"A little concern and ambiguity, and if you have options, you think about them a little harder," Johnson said. "This is a dose of reality."
It will be the second corporate reorganization in less than five years at Progress. The Raleigh-based company is one of the Triangle's biggest employers, with about 5,600 employees statewide.
...Duke employs about...7,600 in North Carolina.
...Johnson and his executive team will move to Charlotte.
...Duke and Progress have each done previous corporate mergers that led to several thousand positions being eliminated. This merger, however, is on a much larger scale and will result in creating the nation's largest electric utility.
...Johnson said ...he urged the employees to focus on safety and job performance.
"What I told them was, 'I can't engage you. You've got to engage yourself. You've got to live with a little ambiguity, a little uncertainty,'" he said.
...Rogers stressed that during 22 years as CEO at Duke and other utilities, he has never resorted to layoffs. He said he can't guarantee any layoffs this time, but he will seek to use other means, including buyouts for employees to take early retirement.
Rogers said the average age of Duke's work force is 50 to 51. The average age of Progress workers is 46.
...A decade ago, the merger between Carolina Power & Light and Florida Progress that created Progress Energy eliminated about 1,300 positions, mostly in Florida. Duke's 2006 acquisition of Cinergy in the Midwest resulted in more than 1,500 positions being eliminated.
When Duke bought Cinergy, Rogers said, some employees were allowed to work on special projects, and some were even paid to provide services to the nonprofit United Way. Others were offered other opportunities within the company.
"You had two job options," Rogers said. "You can say no to the first one, but you can't say no to the second one unless you want to leave the company.""