A reorganization at AAA that has separated the company's insurance operations from the auto club is leading to dozens of job cuts, Walnut Creek-based AAA said Tuesday.
About 100 people have been told their jobs are being eliminated as part of the widespread restructuring of the company's operations in Northern California and elsewhere, said Jennifer Mack, a spokeswoman for AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, also known as AAA NCNU.
The previous combination of road services and insurance services has been separated into two firms.
"This reorganization lets each company focus on what they do best," Mack said.
The auto club is an organization that primarily deals with member services such as emergency roadside service, vacation discounts and DMV services. The insurance firm mainly offers auto, property, life and specialty insurance.
The companies are completely independent with their own board of directors. The separation was effective Jan. 1 The insurance operation is now known as California State Auto Group. The auto club retains the AAA moniker.
The job cuts, though, still loom. About 74 jobs are being eliminated, effective May 31, due to the restructuring, Mack said.
Previously, AAA notified an additional 26 employees they would be losing their jobs this year.
"Our goal is to wrap up the bulk of this foundational work by midyear," Mack said.
During 2010, AAA added 118 positions, leaving it with 1,063 workers at the Station Landing headquarters along Interstate 680 in Walnut Creek.
That was an 12.5 percent increase in the headquarters workforce. Those reductions from last year weren't related to the headquarters downsizing.
Local labor organizations have begun efforts to assist the displaced employees to transition to new jobs.
"We are helping now with outreach," said Stephen Baiter, executive director of the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County. "We are trying to do what we can to help."
Some of that outreach occurred about two weeks ago, in mid-April, he said.
Employment experts believe the job market has begun to thaw -- but only a little. Any improvement would be welcome to displaced workers at AAA and elsewhere.
"It's still a very tough labor market out there," Baiter said. "But things seem to be a little better, all in all."
It's also possible a number of people who have lost their jobs at AAA could gain new positions with the reorganized entities, Mack said.
"In the coming weeks, we hope and expect some of these impacted employees may find new roles as jobs open up in both the insurance company and the auto club," Mack said.
Should that process go well, the net job loss could be 33, she estimated.
The auto club has undergone major changes in its operations over the last year or two, even prior to this restructuring.
In October 2009, AAA completed the largest corporate headquarters relocation from San Francisco to the East Bay in years by moving more than 1,000 employees to Walnut Creek.
That ended more than a century of having its administrative headquarters in San Francisco. The company's first headquarters was at the Cliff House in 1900.
The insurance separation is also a big move. AAA began selling insurance in 1914.
"Separating the insurance company will allow the same focus and independence as our national competitors," Mack said. "And the auto club will be able to focus totally on the membership strategy and creating the best possible member experience. This will let both organizations expand."
Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.