Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘T-Mobile’

Global Labor Ramps Up Campaign to End T-Mobile’s Anti-Union Tactics

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Image: Mike HallDeutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile USA, boasts in its annual report on corporate responsibility that it is committed to the global labor standards established by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a branch of the United Nations.  Except, it appears, when it comes to T-Mobile workers in the United States.

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) President Sharan Burrow says Deutsche Telekom—of which the German government is the dominant shareholder—is

actively and deliberately violating these very rights in its overseas operations.

T-Mobile workers throughout the U.S. are fighting to join a union—the Communications Workers of America (CWA)— but the company has hired union-busting attorneys and is conducting a classic anti-union campaign with mandatory captive audience meetings, delaying tactics and other intimidation measures, says UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings. UNI represents workers in telecoms unions around the world.

If these workers were in Germany, they would have become members of the union automatically but T-Mobile USA management has launched a brutal intimidation campaign to keep the union out of the workplace and to scare the workers out of fighting for their rights.

UNI, the ITUC and other global labor groups are mobilizing their support for T-Mobile workers by urging Deutsche Telekom to rein-in T-Mobile’s anti-worker tactics and pressing the German government to exert its influence.

In a video released last week (see above), Jennings makes a direct appeal to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He notes that just recently, Merkel was the main speaker at the 100th Convention of ILO where she spoke out strongly for workers’ rights, collective bargaining and the right to organize. Says Jennings:

I’m simply addressing this appeal to you to recognize the rights of these ordinary Americans to have a union.

According to Burrow:

Deutsche Telekom has chosen to support outright violation of international freedom of association standards by its US subsidiary.  We expect better from such a significant global player.

If the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile is approved, the T-Mobile’s 20,000 workers will have the right to join a union without intimidation because of a neutrality agreement between with AT&T and CWA.

This article originally appeared on the AFL-CIO blog on July 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was still blue, he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He has also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold his blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent.

G-20 Labor Leaders Meet at AFL-CIO for Labor Summit

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

When the world’s banks were going under, governments jumped to their aid. Now with record numbers of people out of work, it’s past time for governments to put working people first, or the fledgling economic recovery could fall apart. Leaders from the G-20 nations issued this warning while in Washington, D.C., this week for the first-ever meeting of G-20 labor ministers and employment ministers with labor and business leaders April 20-21.

The meeting stems from the efforts by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and others at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh last September to make jobs the central element in any global economic recovery. The G-20 includes the leaders of the world’s top 19 economies and the European Union.

During their meetings at the AFL-CIO before the labor ministers’ summit, the union leaders again strongly urged their governments to support the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Jobs Pact, which includes comprehensive measures to stimulate employment growth and provide basic protections for workers and their families.

Sharan Burrow, president of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), told the ministers:

Governments must show the same political will to attack global unemployment and underemployment as they did to tackle the banking crisis in late 2008. We cannot afford a lost decade of stagnant labor markets.

Trumka made it clear that if the jobs of the future are to be good, family supporting jobs, workers in all nations must have the fundamental right to form unions and bargain collectively:

In the U.S, tens of thousands of workers are fired every year for attempting to form unions. For example, there can be no excuse for T-Mobile, the U.S. telecommunications company, to viciously oppose unions in the U.S. while its corporate parent, Deutsche Telekom supports bargaining rights and unions throughout Europe. Unless workers’ rights are enforced in all countries, there will be a “race to the bottom” in wages and working conditions, a race that will undermine decent work everywhere.

For more information on the ongoing campaign to bring justice to T-Mobile, click here and here.

The union leaders also insisted that governments not reduce stimulus efforts until employment rates return to pre-crisis levels on a sustainable basis, and called for an equitable sharing of the cost of the recovery costs through more progressive tax systems, including the adoption of a financial transactions tax, actions the AFL-CIO strongly backs.

ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder said:

We must halt the continuing rise in unemployment and create new jobs.  Furthermore, there needs to be an ongoing role for labor ministers within the G-20 in order to address the employment impact of the crisis with effective measures to help all workers, including the most vulnerable.

John Evans, general secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), added:

Increasing economic inequality over two decades helped cause this crisis. Fairer income distribution and restoring real purchasing power to working people is essential for sustainable economic growth in the future.

Check out the detailed proposals presented by the union delegation here. Read the ITUC/TUAC evaluation of the meeting’s outcomes here.

*This post originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on April 22, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: James Parks had his first encounter with unions at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. He has also been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections. Author photo by Joe Kekeris

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