The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is accusing T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS) of adopting an illegal, anti-union tactic by creating a company-controlled union.
According to Bloomberg, the wireless carrier’s campaign signed only two union contracts covering around 30 employees.
In February, the CWA filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and alleged that T-Mobile is an illegal “company-dominated” labor organization,” which was prohibited by the Congress during the New Deal era. The NLRB is investigating CWA’s allegation.
T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless carrier in the United States and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom (ETR:DTE). It has approximately 45,000 employees. The CWA has been trying to unionize the wireless carries for more than a decade.
T-Mobile is trying to stop CWA
CWA Organizer Josh Coleman said, “It’s a little bit flattering. We have momentum; the company’s trying to stop it by copying our union.”
CWA noted that in June 2015, T-Mobile Senior Vice President sent an e-mail to employees informing them that the company took “another big step” to ensure that the management hears their voices. The company created T-Voice, a group composed of employee representatives from every call center.
According to Bloomberg, a company manager in Missouri explained in an e-mail last December that T-Voice serves as a “direct line for frontline feedback to senior leadership.”
The manager added that T-Voice representatives, which are selected every six months by the company, would be bringing “pain points” from workers to management and “tracking and communications resolution back to the team.”
In e-mails to employees, T-Mobile mentioned the inputs of T-Voice including perks—spa days for longtime workers, free Wi-Fi and cell phone charging stations.
CWA President Chris Shelton said T-Mobile is funding this sham union, and it is totally and absolutely illegal, and it is totally and absolutely nonsense.”
He added, “If they want to know what the problems are at T-Mobile, they could meet with folks who are elected by the people of T-Mobile and not by the CEO.”
CWA accuses T-Mobile of requiring employees to attend its anti-union meetings where managers tell them that T-Voice is a reason they don’t need a union.
Angela Melvin, a customer service representative in Witchita and a CWA supporter said T-Mobile’s strategy is “insulting” citing the reason that the company is “telling you what’s best for you.”
T-Mobile violated labor laws
Last year, the NLRB filed a complaint against T-Mobile for allegedly violating federal labor laws by preventing employees in Albuquerque from discussing the union at work, by terminating a worker in Brothel, Washington for reporting safety concerns; and by prohibiting employees in Oakland, Maine from discussing investigations over internal misconduct.
In March 2015, an NLRB federal judge ruled that T-Mobile’s 11 rules including restricting communications about workplace issues violated federal laws.
T-Mobile’s statement last year indicated that the ruling was simply about a “technical issue in the law that relates to policies that are common to companies across the country.”