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T-Mobile USA to Butt Heads With NLRB Over Union Complaints

By Josh Long
April 09, 2014 - News

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency that seeks to protect employees' rights, has consolidated cases filed against T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications, in complaints that allege the mobile-phone giant has unlawfully discharged workers who engaged in union practices and issued rules for employees that are overbroad and discriminatory.

Three cases filed against T-Mobile in Albuquerque, N.M., and Wichita, Kan., have been grouped with a case filed against MetroPCS in New York, under an order that NLRB issued on March 31, 2014.

NLRB has accused T-Mobile of engaging in unfair labor practices in violation of the National Relations Labor Act. The cases stem from complaints filed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications union in the United States.

The federal agency's move to consolidate the cases is a procedural one that involves no findings, T-Mobile spokeswoman Ann Marshall said.

"T-Mobile looks forward to presenting all the evidence before an administrative law judge," she said.

A hearing is underway in Wichita, Kan., according to CWA. Marshall confirmed the hearing began but said it was delayed until May due to weather.

When the Kansas proceeding is completed, the judge will travel to Albuquerque to hear similar complaints against T-Mobile, CWA said.

In Wichita, NLRB is seeking to prove that T-Mobile illegally fired a call-center employee, Joshua Coleman, and unlawfully disciplined another worker, Ellen Brackeen, due to their union activities.

Coleman worked at the call center for three-and-a-half years and was a "top performer" who achieved promotions and performance awards before T-Mobile fired him in May 2013 for his union activities, according to CWA. Upon returning to the call center to retrieve his personal belongings, Coleman learned that pages in his notebook had been removed that related to his union activities and those of his co-workers, the union said last year.

Marshall said she could not comment on the cases because they are pending.

NLRB did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment on the complaints.

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