T-Mobile USA says the Communications Workers of America’s (CWA) reference of a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation on T-Mobile call centers is not relevant to the carrier’s proposed acquisition of MetroPCS.
In a letter to the FCC last week, CWA suggested that the FCC examine the DOL’s investigation last year into the closure of seven T-Mobile USA call centers in the U.S.
In a filing with FCC on Friday, T-Mobile says that while CWA recognizes that the DOL investigation was unrelated to the MetroPCS deal, it raises the issue to suggest that that the FCC cannot take seriously T-Mobile and MetroPCS’s assurances that the merger will not result significant job losses in the United States.
The DOL’s investigation referenced by CWA was from March 2012 and in repsone to T-Mobile’s announcement that it would close seven call centers due to substantially decreased call volumes and consolidate the work in the 17 remaining U.S. call centers. T-Mobile says that it notified affected employees that they could transfer to any of the 17 other U.S. call centers that would remain open and where the company intended to increase staffing by an aggregate 1400 positions.
The carrier says that over 500 employees took advantage of the offer.
The DOL concluded that displaced employees in all of the closed call centers were eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistant benefits, which help trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States.
T-Mobile didn’t agree with the DOL’s position, saying that the call center closings were not the result of a plan to send the work off-shore. but rather because call volumes had decreased.
Second, T-Mobile says it informed the Department, the company did not know if the closures would cause more off-shore work in the short-term because, when T-Mobile USA decided to close the centers, it did not know how many employees would stay or whether additional work would be sent off shore.
Finally, T-Mobile said its plan was that if more calls were routed off-shore, such a shift would be temporary until T-Mobile USA was able to hire enough new employees in the U.S. to fill positions in the remaining call centers.
T-Mobile’s response to CWA’s objections to the MetroPCS deal come as T-Mobile last week announced that is preparing a new round of layoffs at its Bellevue, Washington headquarters, according to a report from the Seattle Times.
According to the report, employees have already been alerted of the cuts, which will affect over 100 people.
CWA claims that T-Mobile and MetroPCS had admitted there would be “job reductions” due to the merger.
“The synergies touted by T-Mobile and MetroPCS are indeed euphemisms for firing workers, and CWA believes the numbers reflected in those documents are significant, not ‘small,'” the CWA wrote in its filing.
The CWA also notes that 62 members of Congress submitted a letter to the FCC that proposed joining of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS should include specific commitments to preserve and grow jobs here in the United States.
If approved, the merger would combine T-Mobile, with 30,000 employees and 33.2 million customers with MetroPCS, which directly employs 3,700 to service about 9.3 million customers.
Just last May, T-Mobile USA laid off 900 workers, which was partially offset by the addition of new employees. The company’s call center workers were the primary targets of a round of layoffs in March of 2012 that closed seven facilities and slashed 1,900 jobs.