T-Mobile targeted by CWA complaint for allegedly creating a company-controlled union

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There’s been a longstanding brouhaha involving T-Mobile and unions, with groups like the Communications Workers of America trying to help T-Mobile employees to unionize. The latest chapter in this story sees the CWA alleging that T-Mo is using an illegal strategy to diminish employee support for a union.

The Communication Workers of America recently complained to the National Labor Relations Board that T-Mobile is trying to prevent the formation of an independent union by creating one that it has control over. Such a tactic was outlawed in the US in 1935.

In its complaint, the CWA says that T-Mobile launched a group called T-Voice in June 2015 that was made up of employee representatives from each call center. Those reps were to be chosen by T-Mobile every six months. With T-Voice, T-Mobile said that it would target employee “pain points” and track resolutions, as well as offer perks like spa days for veteran employees and free Wi-Fi.

The CWA also alleges that T-Mobile employees are being forced to attend anti-union meetings in which managers are pointing to T-Voice as a reason that the workers don’t need to join a union. “They’re funding this sham union, and it is totally and absolutely illegal, and it is totally and absolutely nonsense,” says Chris Shelton, CWA President.

The CWA filed its complaint with the NLRB in February, and the NLRB is investigating. T-Mobile hasn’t issued a comment on this report.

The CWA’s effort to unionize T-Mobile employees has gotten a couple of union contracts, but those only cover approximately 30 of T-Mobile’s 45,000 employees, so it’s no surprise that the CWA is still campaigning to get more T-Mo employees into a union. Whether or not anything comes of this NLRB investigation remains to be seen. T-Mobile has been the target of a NLRB ruling in the past, with an NLRB judge saying in March 2015 that some parts of T-Mobile’s employee handbook, code of conduct, and confidentiality agreement were unfair labor practices.

Source: Bloomberg

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  • SBacklin

    Well personally, if T-Voice is there to help employees, let them continue. However, they should stop the anti-Union aspects. Then all T-Voice would be is a department that helps employees with troubles.

  • Jonathan S. Flores

    never been in one of those meetings, never heard of them.

  • Kendahl Titcomb

    I can only say that unions are only useful in a time where the employee has no voice like construction or maybe labor work, of which selling cell phones is not either. Why unions continue to push an old concept of “helping” employees everywhere, is beyond me. Unions force communication gaps, non-open conflict resolution, and perpetuate the idea that “it’s not my problem” attitude. T-Mobile is a great company with open door policies and communication that goes straight to the CEO, so tell me why do they need a rep to stand in to help them discuss problems or concerns?

    • tmoashley

      Not only do we have a great open door policy but there is also the Integrity line. If you feel like you are being treated poorly or that something is unfair, you can call them and place a complaint with them. It is a third party company that answers and you can choose to be anonymous or attach your name to it. I have had to use it in the past and it worked like it was supposed to and it was completely anonymous.

  • NardVa

    If employers paid fair wages and provided fair benefit packages then unions wouldn’t be needed. Employers like to squeeze the bottom while everybody at the top gets rich.

    • Zacamandapio

      I think what the Unions want is for tmobile employees to work out of India not in the US.

  • SkinsFan17

    If you’re listening to your employees, providing a positive work environment, and paying competitive wages and benefits, then in my opinion the union represents an unnecessary level of bureaucracy that does nothing but add unecessary costs and keep union dues coming in. Unions certainly still have a place but only where employees don’t have a voice.

  • Zach Mauch

    …or it could just be an organization created by leadership to legitimately confront employee issues and show care and appreciation.

  • Tmo_employee

    Working in retail for tmobile they are always changing pay structures which always affects is negatively I for one one would welcome the union.

    • Shawn Philpot

      Worked for T-Mobile and worked for AT&T under union rules. You do not want to work under the telecom union. Trust me.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Working in retail for tmobile they are always changing pay structures which always affects is negatively I for one one would welcome the union.

      Welcome to America.

      Pay structures change in all industries. If you are unsatisfied with the change in pay structure in retail, maybe you should change your path to advance yourself into a position that is not affected negatively by these changes.

    • tmoashley

      Pay structure does change but it is only your commission-able income that is changing, correct? The income that YOU have control over?

    • Jonathan S. Flores

      and that is why you should get fired, you don’t know hkw to make money. if the lay structure changes maybe you should change how you do things. I have seen a bigger paycheck everymonth since i started two years ago. you just have to learn how to adapt

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    Maybe they’re having so much trouble unionizing T-Mobile because T-Mobile employees are actually treated well. There’s two ways to avoid your shop unionizing: strong arm prevention, and keeping them happy. Obviously, the CWA benefits from increasing their membership, so they don’t want T-Mobile employees to be happy without the union, so they’re going to automatically assume strong-arm. It’s to their benefit. But apparently the CWA isn’t quite to the benefit of T-Mobile employees.

    I’m actually pro-union..where a union is needed. But if an employer deals with and treats their employees fairly and well, a union is generally NOT needed.

    • Fabian Cortez

      I’m actually pro-union..where a union is needed. But if an employer deals with and treats their employees fairly and well, a union is generally NOT needed.

      Precisely!

      The only one that seems annoyed about T-Mobile not being unionized is the money-hungry union.

      It’s always wise to follow the money…

  • taxandspend

    Unions use whatever mob tactics work to get their way. And they are all about the union. Not about the workers. Some people don’t realize that.

  • Deadeye37

    CWA is getting upset because a potential cash cow for union fees and income isn’t panning out. That T-Voice sounds more like a great way for the company to keep its employees happy while taking care of the problems that employees may have. I wish my company I worked for had those perks. They do a great job listening and has focus groups about how to improve the work environment, but no spa days, free WiFi, etc.

    I think the company’s T-Voice initiative is better than giving up part of your pay check to a union so that they can try to barter for the same thing while the union bosses get a share of your cut.

    • PC_Tool

      “They do a great job listening and has focus groups about how to improve the work environment”

      *gasp*

      That’s a company controlled union! How dare they! /s

    • Christopher Olson

      Yea all this industry needs is unions driving down the workforce and putting customer service behind what’s better for the greedy unions. Unions in general just need to be outlawed, their priorities are never driven for its members but profit just like any shady business.

  • pseudoswede

    CWA = Can’t Work Anyless

  • better for all

    all these replies are from management ..so fake bullshit ..tmobile call center have such poor working conditions high turnover unbelievable amount of stress and kiss ass environment to move up…….THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE SCARED TO COMPLAIN BECAUSE OF THE SCARE OF LOSING THERE JOB..

    • Acdc1a

      No, these comments are from people who work for a living. Work isn’t supposed to be fun or a constant party. Mature people leave when unhappy. Unions protect the lazy and people who like to complain. Like the idea of a union? How about the same pay and benefits you have now with $100 from every check going to protect lazy complainers?

      • Over-arching…

        Also, workers are not to be tortured either with over-arching stress by stupidity. To accomplish any objective, you have to have a team atmosphere. Yes, you are not there to make friends… and Neither are you there to make enemies and be punitive, in other words, a donkey to other people (employees)…

      • Brad C

        I used to think the same thing but that’s before I worked for a unionized company. 99.9% of my coworkers are amazing, we all pull our own weight and if we ever have a discrepancy with management we actually have someone to call to straighten the situation out instead of a “he said, he said” approach.

        Also, at my union job I make more money than my un-unionized peers (much more than my $50/mo to the union) and my company is still turning over record profits as well as amazing return on invested capital. So paying workers a living wage while being able to keep a pleasant working environment can be done but most companies just do not know how to do it since most management cannot get over their damn power trips.

        • Konan

          Again idiot.

        • Brad C

          Well if that’s the only thing you’ve got (of course no facts to back yourself up)

          Typical conservative

      • Konan

        Smart.

    • CalicoKJ

      I have yet to work in a call center where there wasn’t someone complaining about “poor working conditions”. To work in a call center for any period of time (and be happy) takes a certain kind of person, and there aren’t many of those out there. It’s not a cushy, sit-on-your-ass, and answer the phones gig. If you’ve never worked the operations side of things, you probably have a hard time understanding why things are as they are.

    • csr specialist

      You are so wrong. I am not management and simple fact is the union only wants in for the money they would receive. We don’t want them, we don’t need them and they just need to go away

  • better for all

    pay and benefits are good ..but working conditions in these call centers are awful…the harassment from management is terrible …they really treat people like cattle…you tied to a OAR ON A VIKINGS SHIP ..destroy peoples sanity …..tmobile needs to stop the anti union….they claim they are better than ATT .ATThas a union and doesn’t have these problems…plus t mobile has more labor complaints than WALMART so don’t be fooled

    • Acdc1a

      You don’t like it? QUIT!

      • better for all

        its about following law .this is America ..plus to make employees get sick due to anxiety and depression…..peoples health are on the line here…

        • Acdc1a

          Get over yourself. My guess is you’re some entitled millennial…

          And if I’m right I hate to break it to you that nearly every large corporation has employee feedback panels.

        • Brad C

          “Entitled Millennials” were created by the crap parenting of the last three generations. And it’s not that we are “entitled” but when i spent 80k on a degree (not an “arts” or anything “liberal” for that matter) and can barely find a job that pays over 30k then there’s a problem with this country.

          I have gotten lucky, I’ve found a stable job that’s unionized and have great working conditions as well as great management and I love what I do (not anywhere related to my degree) but I know many people are not as lucky as I was and are forced to work garbage, low paying customer facing positions due to our lovely “economy” that started with Regan’s lovely “trickle down economics” that was instated long before most of us were born.

          I think the current leaders need to take responsibility for their awful decisions made in the 70’s and 80’s that’s continued to act like a domino effect for our stable production jobs, so people that are suppose to be middle class can actually live a comfortable life and not have to work 60-80hrs a week just to “make” it paycheck to paycheck.

        • Konan

          Your an idiot

        • Brad C

          (once again)

          Well if that’s the only thing you’ve got (of course no facts to back yourself up)

          Typical conservative

        • Wow

          You do understand saying that bc you spent 80k on a degree and you can’t find (i.e. Can’t get hired) a job making more than 30k means you feel entitled to a job bc of going to school! Work on your search or personality skills and try again.

        • Brad C

          Nah I just ditched my degree and got my pilot ratings and now fly instead. Much better occupation and the money is great as well as unionized

        • Jonathan S. Flores

          lolz hahahahha lolz wait a minute lolz hahahhahahhah.. my dude, is nobody fault you study the wrong thing. but maybe if you resume was a bit more robust. i see people trying to get a job for like 80k a year when they have never worked in their lives. you have to build your resume, so it stands from all the others.

        • SteveD

          I have to question what kind of degree you have if you not only spent $80k on but ended up in a union/trade job anyhow…

        • Brad C

          I ended up just ditching the degree and getting a pilot license instead, the occupation is much more enjoyable, completely unionized, and pays well

      • SatanicSponge

        I know, right? Finding good jobs is so easy, especially in today’s economy!

        And while you’re at it, if you don’t like your lot in life, why not just kill yourself?

    • Better Yet..

      Better yet, if you do like your job…Stay, continue to be very assertive (professional) and make recommendations and/or suggestions to improve policy. Hopefully, you will get promoted to a position to influence some level of change internally… and Not allow others to silence your voice on any level.

      • carl

        Keyword: Hopefully

    • csr specialist

      You don’t work for T-mobile would be my guess. I have been an employee for more then 10 years and I love my job and the company. Our center provides a gym, sit stand stations and the very best in adjustable chairs. CWA is a joke employee ignore them or tell them to take a hike when they stand at the end of our driveway. As for T-voice CWA is so damm wrong. T-voice gives reps an opportunity to provide customer and employee pain points to make the experiance for the customers better and for making the employees job easier. I have been a csr by choice and I have submitted Ideas for making jump easier, for preventing accidental charges for international calls. This is far from any union and the union would only take money out of my pocket, they just need to go away.

      • Barry Cearley

        I worked 10 years in the nashville call center, I can with certain say, no one in my call center was interested in joining a union!

      • Clevenger23

        i work for a company and have been in CWA for 6 years now. And honestly in my case, they have saved my pocket book. this last contract I got a lot taken away from me, but that was after 4 tentative agreements because originally the company refused to budge and wanted to lower my wages, increase my insurance payments, take away my pensions, take away my 401K match, and more. After almost 2 years of nogotations, we ended up with still increased insurance payments, but a 1% (laughable) pay raise, and got to keep my 401K match and Pension. I am afraid for the next time to see what the company will take away from me.

  • carl

    I don’t trust companies with resolving employee-employer issues, there needs to be an independent or employees based entity or union. I don’t trust outside unions when it comes to large companies.

    Let’s say an employee sees something wrong, let’s say a faulty ladder, the employee should be able to report it to both the employer and the entity automatically. Then the entity should let others employees know about that report. I think that would resolve the issue pretty quick or at least prevent an accident.

    For all that to work there would have to be some form of democratically based structure.

    There would have to be limits to this entity like no collective bargaining, but maybe yes about sharing how much other employees make. Communication and transparency could make for nice work environments.

    • TMOTECH

      I don’t want anyone knowing what I make. It is none of their business. What would be the point? That causes tension and accusations of bias. Put your head down and do your job to the best of your ability and you will earn what you deserve.

  • Alan

    At the center I work at..yes tmobile.. I can say I personally have not seen management try to keep union talk out since we started trading publicly. Maybe before that there was some push back but not now. Most of the people I talk to want no part in a union. There are pros and cons to either side of it as with anything. I know that I definitely want no part of it. I feel for the area we live in, the wages are very fair and the benefits far exceed the normal range for the area. T- voice is an honest attempt by the company to resolve issues that reps have to try to make things better and more enjoyable. This is not a job that everyone can do, period. Metrics change because they have to. If a company wants to stay competitive they have to constantly evolve. Especially in this industry. Yes metric changes are stressful when they occur, and yes, good employees adapt and embrace the changes, bad employees pout and complain and resist the change. Having a union would in no way stop the company from making these changes,it’s a necessity, a plain old fact of life. Get over it. CWA leave us alone we don’t want you.

  • Tim Decker

    CWA is useless. They’re out to make themselves money. I had to be a part of it when I was with at&t and cingular bought us. Their reps came in talking up the union and we weren’t interested. We said so politely a d they got real crappy and told is there are more cingular reps than at&t so you don’t have a choice. It was awesome to make less money under their negotiated terms. Their representatives are a joke when the shit hots the fan. Just a waste of an organization when it comes to retail sales

  • AngryBadger

    Unions are definitely a case-by-case situation. As far as lazy people being ‘protected’, I have seen that in union and non-union situations.

    I have seen communication break-downs on both sides of the fence. If your union is crappy, then vote those people out and make change. Just like you would with management, go up your chain-of-command and get the right people talking.

    I’ve seen so many safety issues in manufacturing that were avoided because there was a union to resolve the issue quickly (management would just want to band-aid or avoid the issue). You could probably report some things to an outside regulatory entity, if your industry has one. That may take awhile as well. At least with the union, you have steadfast resolution process.

    Accountability is another key factor. Again, just like working with a good company… it takes a good union to see all those benefits. Some companies are bad, some unions are bad as well. You choose wisely or be the one to change it.

    #Pros #Cons

  • Your Mi Boy Blu

    Those who take a hard stance against Unions will often be less interested in the quality of the sold product or service because the employees are more easily expendable. Human capital is always a company’s biggest company expense. Deutsche Telekom often questioned why it’s US employees didn’t want to unionize. It seems based on Press Releases I read from German news outlets, DT would almost enjoy to negotiate on a bargained basis and retain a qualified workforce.

    Company HR always exists to protect the interests of the company; and non-profit unions always exist to protect the interests of the workers. This may include additional training. This is a Union’s legal requirement which carries obligations.

    Absent of union assistance, I read comments from people with 10+ years working at T-Mobile, they are most likely from middle management who are “towing the company line”; and experience in towing the company narrative.

    The point problem is that “T-Voice” concept is likely illegal; just as a number of other allegations such as people required to wear “Dunce Hat” at work for not hitting a quota target, calls-per hour, or meeting single-call resolution metrics. Strategies like these which include “public shaming” are effective ways to lower costs, push employees to quit. Overall, this is a reflection of training and management need to manage their area of responsibility by lowering headcount and budget through employee attrition. Unions have a very effective way to increase budgets by showing how valuable a role or position role is to the customers of a company.

    The great thing is AT&T’s Cricket. They actually decided to unionize, and that’s excellent news for those employees. It shows that management at AT&T value their employees work. Cricket also showed that a company can have a robust network, market-leading unlimited rate plan service plans, more and better coverage, and it’s employees can also enjoy the safety and security of having long-term employment.

  • Moe

    It would appear that unions can only get a foot in the door when workers are unhappy (poor conditions, poor wages, abusive practices). It might be that TMO workers are fairly happy employees and don’t see the need for union representation.

  • TMOTECH

    Why is the CWA so interested in T-Mobile’s employees? Because they want their dues. Nothing more. It does not benefit the CWA to negotiate for the employees. Unions use to protect the worker. Now they just skim their paychecks. I work in the industry and make good money and have good benefits. I don’t need someone negotiating for me. My work ethic and dedication speak for itself. I know people who are in the CWA and they make less and have worse health insurance. So no thanks. I’m good.

  • mobilegirl

    tmo t-voice is about customer pain points that reps can’t resolve or a process that should be changed. t-voice also gives employees a voice to corporate of what changes we want to see happen. I know ppl who are t-voice members. I had plenty of union jobs..past experience I don’t want a union job.

  • todd whitley

    I am former T-Mobile Management that was laid off just prior to the Metro PCS merger and would like to share my personal thought on the Union matter. One thing I see below from other post is that TMobile is involved in Union busting etc. Yes I did attend some classes on 3rd party awareness where we were taught what we could and couldn’t say regarding Unions. NOTHING was taught to us that was a grey area, while TMobile didn’t want a union they went about educating us so we did not violate any laws with regard to individuals wanting to organize. With that said when I was laid off I went to work for a Class I Railroad where 80% of all employees are Union, including myself, so now I am a part of a Union. The Railroad allows craft people such as myself to keep paying Union dues even if promoted to Management therefore if there is a layoff or cutback and your Management position gets cut you can go back to tools, in other words roll back into your craft. You would loose bonus and possibly some salary but you WOULD STILL HAVE A JOB! At T-Mobile I had been a Technician prior to becoming Management. If the Tmobile Field Techs had a Union Contract in place when I had went to Management and I had continued to pay my dues when I got laid off I would have went back to tools and still been able to provide for my family and have benefits instead I was kicked to the curb after 16 years. I am in the IBEW, not the CWA so I am not sure of how it is to be a CWA member. I will say this is support of the Union, if there is something I don’t like I can speak up without fear of retribution or punishment. If you are in Management and still pay your Union dues you are generally a better manager in my opinion because you can voice your opinion there also. My time at TMobile this was the opposite, if you spoke up and your boss or bosses didn’t like it there could be retribution latter. I screamed from the rafter when Tmobile didn’t participate in the 700 Mhz auction and now they are buying it up. When I pointed out in 2008 that we should be buying these frequencies it put a mark on me. If I bought up things I felt were not right for the employee I was told to deliver the message in a positive way regardless of how I felt. In other words to shut up and put a positive spin on something I considered a turd for the employees So in my opinion if you want to be able to voice your opnion it is easier if you are in the union, if you need support for unfair treatment, join the union, if you want to have bargaining power join the union. Tmobile will not allow you to bargain for yourself regardless of what they tell you. So in my opinion did TMobile Union bust, I would say no, did they educate management legally, I would say yes. Is the CWA the right union for TMobile employees? I don’t know but I do think they are going about organizing the wrong way. The Union has its place and I do think some of the employees from Tmobile could benefit from one. just my thoughts.