Blake Poindexter is a former T-Mobile USA worker who had worked in a call center in Frisco, Texas, before the company announced in March it would close that center along with six others. Last week, he urged Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann to respect T-Mobile USA workers’ right to join together in a union and stop the company’s harassment of workers.
Deutsche Telekom is T-Mobile’s corporate parent and Poindexter was at its annual shareholders meeting on Cologne, Germany. He is now an activist with CWA-TU, a joint effort of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and German union ver.di, which represents workers at Deutsche Telekom.
T-Mobile has mounted fierce opposition to the workers’ drive to win a voice. At the meeting, Poindexter blasted T-Mobile’s anti-union campaign and its growing practice of sending U.S. call center jobs offshore. Poindexter also described how T-Mobile USA instills a culture in which workers fear even taking a leaflet from the union. They fear being seen with union organizers. Managers tell workers to stay away from anyone who speaks up in favor of joining the union. Poindexter told Obermann:
Don’t let fear overwhelm your employees. Unions provide some security for employees. A voice in the workplace provides a set of rules that all employees can live within. Because of such rules, involuntary turnover is lower, and management can build a learning workplace that better serves the contract customers we hope to attract and retain.
He also pointed out that offshoring U.S. jobs to the Philippines, Guatemala and other countries angers its customers and has caused T-Mobile to lose subscribers.
Kornelia Dubbel, a ver.di activist and Deutsche Telekom works councilor, also spoke at the shareholders meeting. She has visited T-Mobile USA workers many times, and told Obermann that the company
should learn from the German experience where workers’ rights are respected, stop the offshoring strategy and end the bullying and fear tactics toward workers who want to join the union.
German companies should give a good example within the structures of other countries, but not with behavior we would never accept at Deutsche Telekom in Germany.
Learn more about Poindexter’s visit to Germany at CWA-TU's website We Work Better Together. Poindexter also met with members of ver.di and the Deutsche Telekom Works Council to deepen the cooperation between CWA and ver.di and to share experiences working for and organizing at the same company in different countries. Read more here.
In the United States, AFL-CIO state federations and central labor councils in 19 communities have delivered 36 video messages from community, labor, religious and elected leaders to management of Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile USA. In each of the statements, union leaders and activists tell Deutsche Telekom the company is welcome in their communities, but they expect fairness for the workers they employ and respect for their rights to organize and bargain collectively. Click here for a collage of the video.
As T-Mobile USA continues its low-road strategy of layoffs, offshoring and shifting workers from full-time to part-time positions to eliminate their benefits, workers around the country are coming together to push back and demand fairness for themselves and for the customers they serve. CWA, ver.di, the AFL-CIO, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and UNI Global Union stand with them and will continue the global campaign (see www.weexpectbetter.org/) until workers at T-Mobile USA and other Deutsche Telekom sites around the world achieve their basic rights to join a union and bargain collectively.