As the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is finalized, reports have surfaced that T-Mobile will close 1,500 to 2,000 Metro by T-Mobile prepaid stores across the country not as a result of the pandemic, but due to the merger. The move will eliminate thousands of jobs, and comes despite promises by T-Mobile not to cut jobs following the merger.
Meanwhile, as wireless workers provide essential support during the COVID-19 pandemic, T-Mobile has engaged in an intense union busting campaign at a store in Del Rio, Texas where workers are seeking to organize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). A T-Mobile manager from Laredo has driven three hours to the store multiple times to meet with the workers indoors for captive audience meetings to pressure them to vote against union representation.
“As the result of its job-killing merger, T-Mobile is closing thousands of stores, leaving many employees without jobs during the pandemic,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “It is a shame that the so-called new T-Mobile is the same as the old. Apparently, neither sleet nor snow nor life-threatening pandemic will stop the company from trying to silence workers, even if it means putting them and their families at risk of infection. I’m proud of the Del Rio employees for standing up for themselves and for the safety of their coworkers and their community by fighting for a seat at the table. They help produce the profits for this billion dollar company. They deserve a voice at work and in their future.”
“I was disappointed that T-Mobile drove in high level managers to try to bust our union,” said Monica Luna, who works in the Del Rio T-Mobile store. “Having us in close quarters with union busting managers didn’t seem essential. It put us at more risk for getting COVID-19, not less.“
In a filing to the FCC in 2018, CWA estimated that the merger was likely to eliminate 30,000 jobs, with authorized retailers and prepaid stores being hit the hardest. Unfortunately, because the regulatory bodies approving the merger have failed to implement adequate job protections, CWA’s predictions on job loss have begun to come true.
CWA also raised concerns with the merger over T-Mobile’s history of running aggressive anti-union campaigns when its employees have tried to have a voice on the job and improve their working conditions. The company has been found to violate U.S. labor law on multiple occasions.
A majority of the workers in the Del Rio store have expressed interest in joining CWA. A union representation election is underway through mail-in ballot.