California Commission Hears Labor Views on AT&T/T-Mobile

The California Public Utilities Commission held the last of three public workshops on the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. At the hearing, held in Los Angeles on July 21, 2001, labor joined community and business organizations to voice its support to the merger. T-Mobile, which was up for sale, selected AT&T over Sprint as its merger partner. The California Commission is investigating the impact of the merger in order to provide recommendations to the FCC.

CWA District 9 Administrative Director, Val Afanasiev, told the Commission that "CWA represents about 43,000 AT&T Mobility employees, including 5,300 AT&T wireless workers in California at three major call centers, retail stores, and as technicians." The merger, he said, would result in three substantial public interest benefits:

  • the AT&T/T-Mobile merger will accelerate high-speed broadband deployment
  • the transaction will positively impact consumers with improved service quality — fewer dropped calls and faster service
  • and the merger will benefit workers with job growth and expanded workers' rights.

Moreover, said Afanasiev, "almost four million Californians — 11 percent of our state's population — do not have access to high-speed networks," and "as a result of the transaction, AT&T promises to deploy 4G LTE wireless service to over 98 percent of California's population within six years."

Afanasiev was joined by California AFL-CIO President, Art Pulaski, who cited the benefits of merging with the far-better capitalized AT&T. This would result in more jobs in wireless telecommunications in California, as well as enhanced service "helping close the digital divide in rural communities."

Pulaski pointed out that Sprint, on the other hand, "contracts out 70 percent of its customer service work, much of it to foreign countries," cutting 20,000 jobs in the past four years. But Pulaski dwelt on the stark contrast between the two companies as employers. Instead of Sprint, which has intimidated, silenced and fired workers, AT&T offered a different picture. Said Pulaski:

After an AT&T/T-Mobile merger, T-Mobile workers will finally have the ability to decide whether they want a union free from management intimidation. Such a development will be especially beneficial for women and minorities, who make up the majority of the wireless industry workforce. Unionized workers earn significantly more than non-union workers, providing a path to good, middle-class jobs.

California Public Utilities Commission: AT&T's Proposed Acquisition of T-Mobile