T-Mobile USA Faces Criticism, Pressure from Unions

One day after the president of the Communications Workers of America told federal lawmakers that T-Mobile USA is blatantly hostile to unions, hundreds of workers from a German telecommunications union showed up at Deutsche Telecoms global annual shareholders meeting in Cologne to demand that the company ensure its American employees the same rights enjoyed by DTs workforce in Germany, according to a report.

In a blog posting, James Parks of the AFL-CIO the federation of 55 national and international labor unions reported that more than 500 workers from ver.di formed a human chain around the meeting venue and released black balloons as a sign of mourning for their U.S. co-workers rights.”

Deutsche Telekom should change its behavior in the United States as soon as possible,” Parks quoted ver.dis Ado Wilhelm as stating. Its global standing is at stake and it should use this chance to improve its reputation.”

T-Mobile USA and its parent Deutsche Telekom face escalating public scrutiny as AT&T seeks regulatory approval to acquire T-Mobile USA, the nations fourth-largest mobile operator that has been losing subscribers.

In a statement Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, the leader of an American union claimed that T-Mobile USA employees would benefit from being acquired by a company that is not hostile to unions.

While AT&T maintains a policy of true neutrality and allows workers to make their own decisions regarding union representation, T-Mobile is actively hostile to unions and strongly opposes efforts by workers to organize and exercise their basic rights,” said Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, which represents about 700,000 workers, including roughly 43,000 AT&T wireless employees.

Cohen claimed T-Mobile USA has created a climate of fear through steps such as photographing the license plates of employees seen taking union leaflets, pressuring workers to report contact with union representatives to management, and requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings.”

Asked for a comment on Cohens remarks, a T-Mobile USA spokesperson responded that the company respects the rights of unions to exist and recognizes and respects employees’ rights to organize or to refrain from organizing.”

To date, T-Mobile employees have chosen not to join a union, as they value an open and transparent communication with management,” the spokesperson added.

T-Mobile has more than 40,000 T-Mobile employees in the United States, including retail store representatives, engineers and operational functions in its Bellevue, Wash. corporate headquarters.

Those employees, Cohen said, dont have the same rights as AT&T workers. T-Mobile employees, he pointed out to lawmakers, are at will.”  At will” status generally means employees can be terminated at any time with our without cause and most employees in the United States fall under this category.  

AT&T employees, by contract, are protected by collective bargaining agreements which establish a system of due process and regulate the terms under which a worker may be disciplined or discharged,” said Cohen, who supports the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

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