A T-Mobile USA employee who worked at one of the call centers that the wireless carrier is closing on Thursday will square off against Deutsche Telekom AG, pressuring the German giant to enable T-Mobile USA employees to join the union.
Twenty-four-year Blake Poindexter is scheduled to speak during Deutsche Telekom’s annual meeting in Cologne, Germany.
“We will be posing questions basically asking why the double standard … why in the United States we not [give] the same respect T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom give their employees in Germany,” said Poindexter, who now works as a full-time organizer with the Communications Workers of America, the organization that claims to be the largest telecommunications union in the world.
“We will be asking why they are still choosing to offshore jobs when Germany also tried this and found that it was not conducive to their business,” he said during a phone interview Wednesday from Germany. “It only made matters worse. We are also asking them for neutrality. For them to back away and follow the law” and allow for the organization of the union.
Poindexter said an estimated 70,000-to-80,000 employees of T-Mobile USA’s parent, Deutsche Telekom, are represented by a union named Ver.di. T-Mobile didn’t immediately respond for a request to confirm the number of union-representated employees at its parent company.
The CWA claims Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile USA has been hostile to any attempts to join the union. Such tactics have included “holding mandatory captive audience meetings, management intimidation of workers, hiring lawyers and consultants to pursue ‘union avoidance’ and even threatening workers who take a union leaflet,” the union asserted Wednesday in a press release.
The CWA continues to exert pressure on T-Mobile USA, even releasing a video available on YouTube (see below) a satire of T-Mobile’s TV ads to hammer home the problem of job losses. The woman in the video gets her pink slip and is supposed to resemble T-Mobile’s model Carly Foulkes.
Contacted early Wednesday morning for comments on this story, a spokesperson for T-Mobile USA indicated the company planned to email statements but still hadn’t commented as of 4:30 p.m. PT.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that T-Mobile planned to cut another 900 jobs in a second round of layoffs.
“We are restructuring the organization and optimizing operations so that we can make critical decisions better and faster,” the company told the Journal. “By reducing our cost structure and streamlining operations, T-Mobile will be able to invest in areas where we anticipate the strongest return.”
T-Mobile has about 36,000 employees, according to a fact sheet on its website.
The company is hoping to turn around its struggling wireless business after its $39 billion merger with AT&T collapsed.
T-Mobile said in March the closure of the seven call center facilities by the end of June would help with its costs. T-Mobile has employed 3,300 individuals at the seven facilities, although the company anticipated hiring as many as 1,400 individuals to work at the remaining 17 call centers.
Poindexter said he resigned from T-Mobile and joined the CWA after he received notice the company was closing the facility in Frisco, Texas. He said he began working for T-Mobile in April 2009 and earned about $38,000 a year excluding benefits.
Explaining how he become involved in the union, Poindexter said he was approached by a CWA representative in a parking lot more than a year ago while leaving work for lunch one day. He said he and about a handful of other employees mobilized to support unionization and would meet regularly.
“We wore our shirts that said we expect better from T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom. We were actively passing out flyers in the parking lot on our lunches and our breaks and also before and after shifts and days we were off,” he said. The employees also explained “how a union can help and letting employees know AT&T and CWA have a very good relationship and the treatment [and] the benefits they receive are a lot better than what we get. They just have a lot more rights and protection when it comes to job security.”