Several employees have come forward since our first story about the problems facing Citizens Telephone Cooperative — Floyd County’s largest private employer. They tell horror stories of abusive supervisors and a company out of control. They also raise serious questions about management of the publicly-owned utility that has kept its subscriber-owners in the dark.
The broad range of concerns raised by employees shows this is more than a few gripes by a handful of disgruntled workers. Something may be seriously wrong with the company that controls phone and Internet service in the county and also seeks to become a dominant force in television and wireless phones as well.
The top echelons of Citizens remain disturbingly quiet about the recent meeting with employees where company management said revenue must be significantly increased by July or layoffs and cutbacks in service will begin. Department heads and others say they have been told not to talk to me, the press or the subscribers who supposedly own the company.
The question is: why? Why is Citizens stonewalling the subscriber/owners of the company? What has brought the company to this point? Was it mismanagement? Was it over-expansion? Or do we have more serious and sinister reasons behind the problems?
A long-time Citizens employee asked me Friday if I had a grudge against someone at the company. When I told that employee that, no, I have a lot of friends who work for Citizens and have come to know a number of others who came forward in recent days, the response was: "Good. I needed to know that. Now, please keep digging."
I will. We — the customers and owners of Citizens — pay some of the highest rates around for telephone, Internet and wireless service. We deserve to know what’s going on inside our increasingly troubled and secretive telephone company.