Today's telephone operator workforce?

In the distant past, when there was a telephone worker strike, there would be some adverse impact on placing certain telephone calls since the operators who handled those calls were out on strike. However, in the recent Verizon strike, nothing was said about the loss of operator services.

Would anyone know how many operators are employed today by Verizon, AT&T, and others?

In 1976, the Bell System employed 150,000 operators*. They projected the force would reach 200,000 by the year 2000, something that obviously hasn't happened. Toll service has been extensively automated, in addition, toll service has become so cheap that special calls, such as coin, collect, 3rd number, T&C, and person-to-person are obsolete. Certain local services are no longer supported.

One feature I think should still be provided--and without an onerous charge--is emergency call interrupt. That is, if someone has an emergency and needs to break into an ongoing conservation, an operator could do so. Most carriers have eliminated this service in recent years, despite charging a high fee.

*"Engineering & Operations in the Bell System" by Bell Labs.
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However, this should require an onerous background check (e.g. the same kind police get) and an onerous security deposit (I'm thinking about the price of a new car or a small used house), which is paid to the callee if in the sole opinion of the callee the call wasn't an emergency, or if it was a wrong-number emergency call interrupt.

Police officers should be able to bypass both requirements if they put their gun and badge on the line (and lose them permanently if they misuse emergency call interrupt *EVEN ONCE*. Police, be very sure the number you have is correct).

Emergency: a situation in which property or human life is in jeopardy and the prompt summoning of aid is essential. Potential revenue is not property and aid does not include transmission of advertising. Advertisers always consider not being able to get in contact with a potential customer as an emergency, especially if the customer has their caller-ID blocked (something which is often ineffective anyway).

I wonder how often it has happened (before widespread DSL and cable modems, in the era of dialup ISPs) that emergency call interrupt was used to break into a (residential) modem connection, the call dropped (NO CARRIER) and then the modem/computer redialled the call, and no human present had any idea that anyone was trying to reach them.

I'm having a problem thinking of an emergency where calling 911 is not a more appropriate response to the situation, unless it's first responders making the call. e.g. "Shut off the gas and electric power in , we've got live downed power wires and a major gas leak due to an 18-wheeler hitting a power pole and gas meter. Major risk of explosion". First responders should not have to interrupt a call for that: utility companies should have emergency lines, known to first responders, that don't get flooded by customers every severe thunderstorm that knocks down power lines. The same applies to contacts for chemical plants, oil refineries, or any other business where the workers may have to respond to a threat of fire.

I'm sorry, these are not emergencies: "Joe needs to be bailed out of jail." (unless the jail is on fire). "Your ${relative} is dying in the hospital." (unless perhaps I'm a doctor and the only one around) "This is your neighbor calling: your house is on fire." (Call 911 first, not me! You expect ME to go buy a fire extinguisher and come home in half an hour? Sure, I'd like to know, but it's not an emergency, and the fire department is better than me at getting people out and putting out fires, and should get there sooner.) "World War III has started." What do you expect me to do about that? Obama has all sorts of emergency communications and procedures in case he has to respond to someone launching missiles in the middle of his campaign speech. I don't.

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