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T-Mobile Workers: Company Makes Mockery of Corporate Responsibility

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Workers at T-Mobile USA say the company is making a mockery of its parent’s claims of corporate responsibility. Earlier this week, Deutsche Telekom (DT), the giant German telecom company that owns T-Mobile, patted itself on the back for its “leadership” on environmental matters. But workers point out that corporate social responsibility extends beyond going green, it includes treating workers fairly. And on that score, DT and T-Mobile fail miserably. Workers say DT should “be green. not mean.” 

Last month, T-Mobile workers visited Germany and joined with their colleagues at ver.di, the German telecommunications workers union, to tell DT shareholders about the company’s double standard to deny its U.S. employees the freedom to join a union.

In many countries around the world, Deutsche Telekom follows internationally recognized labor and human rights, including the freedom of association and the freedom to join a union. But not in the United States. Here, the German company allows management to harass and intimidate workers who want to join a union.

And things are getting worse. Here’s what one T-Mobile worker had to say about their employer on the T-Mobile workers’ website,

I was part of the workers’ delegation that visited Germany last month. The experiences that my German friends shared with me was human proof that a unionized workplace makes a difference. Since I have returned to work, U.S. management continues to goad us daily into meeting increasingly unrealistic performance “goals” and threatens “corrective action” if we do not. Our German counterparts I met on the trip have an entirely different experience with performance metrics; they are never terminated for failure to meet management’s goals but are instead given the incentive to earn more if they achieve. Coercion plays no role in motivation.

In the report “Lowering the Bar or Setting the Standard? Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. Labor Practices,” released in December 2009 by American Rights at Work, John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University, found that T-Mobile is conducting a vicious anti-union campaign to prevent workers from joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Logan said T-Mobile routinely distributed an anti-union memo to its operations across America and employees often are forced to attend management-led meetings where they are warned about joining a union, with both implied and open threats that they will be fired for doing so. Click here to read the full report.

Commenting on Logan’s report last year, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the House Education and Labor chairman, summed up the situation this way:  

While the parent company, Deutsche Telekom, promotes positive labor relationships with its workers in Germany, and while many expected a similar approach to its workers in the United States, today’s report indicates that T-Mobile is not a chip off the old block. American workers deserve better. 

To learn more about the T-Mobile workers’ fight, click here.


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