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Medtronic to Cut Jobs in Twin Cities

Some lower-skilled jobs in Columbia Heights, MN, will be outsourced to the Philippines.

Maureen Kingsley

Minneapolis-based Medtronic is eliminating some jobs at its Sullivan Lake facility in Columbia Heights, the Star Tribune reported. An employee with knowledge of the layoffs told the newspaper about 70 Medtronic employees would be affected, while the official company spokesperson, Fernando Vivanco, said the number of jobs to be eliminated is still unknown.

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The affected positions are lower level jobs that Medtronic called "transactional" and "repetitive" in nature and do not require "deep Medtronic or customer domain knowledge." Examples include transferring incoming calls, responding to requests for published medical literature, and handling undeliverable mail.

This work will be shifted to an outside contractor "whose team will be based in the Philippines," the Star Tribune reports. A Medtronic worker not named in the Star Tribune story said the outsourcing and IT services firm Cognizant is the outside contractor that will be taking over the eliminated positions.

Some employees affected by the restructuring will remain on site to work as employees of the contractor, spokesperson Vivanco said. Other affected workers may be able to apply for Medtronic jobs in other departments.

Vivanco told the Star Tribune that the job cuts will allow Medtronic "to be more responsive to fluctuations in demand and maintaining service levels to our customers."

Earlier in 2016, Medtronic announced job changes at the same Sullivan Lake plant, saying that it was "transitioning" an undisclosed number of manufacturing jobs by the end of 2017 as part of the company's "ongoing consolidation of manufacturing to larger centers of excellence," Vivanco told the Star Tribune.

The planned job cuts are "concerning, given the commitment given to me by Medtronic that the company will add 1,000 jobs in Minnesota following their acquisition of an overseas company in 2014," said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in a prepared statement. "However," he continued, Medtronic "assured me that they are on track to fulfill this commitment."

The "overseas company" referenced by Dayton is Ireland-based surgical-supplies-maker Covidien, which Medtronic acquired about two years ago and which resulted in Medtronic's moving its "legal address" to Dublin last year, the Star Tribune reported. Medtronic maintains an "operational headquarters" in Minnesota, though, its reps explain.

For its part, Medtronic said it has created 500 new jobs in Minnesota since the Covidien deal was closed, and remains "on track" to meet its commitment of adding 1,000 new jobs to Minnesota over a five-year period.

Medtronic, which is worth about $110 billion, recently earned FDA approval for its MiniMed 670G insulin pump, which the company calls the world's first "hybrid, closed-loop artificial pancreas." This month, it announced a partnership with personal-fitness-tracker company Fitbit on the iPro2 myLog, a device that will connect to a mobile app to enable patients with type 2 diabetes to monitor their glucose levels and physical activity data in one application.

Maureen Kingsley is a contributor to Qmed. 

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