Last week, award-winning labor and business reporter Steven Greenhousepublished a comprehensive article on T-Mobile’s disgraceful labor and consumer practices.
T-Mobile is currently the golden child of the telecom industry, with a media-friendly CEO and high profits. But, as Greenhouse writes, the company faces allegations of the law in nearly every part of its operation:
- The New York state attorney general is investigating T-Mobile for deceptive advertising, particularly regarding its “no contract required” claim—central to the company’s appeal as the “un-carrier.”
- The National Consumers League and groups representing minorities have written to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau urging them to investigate T-Mobile’s aggressive debt collection practices.
- The National Labor Relations Board has had to step in and rule several of T-Mobile’s employee policies illegal. In addition, the board ruled that T-Mobile could no longer ask employees complaining about issues such as sexual harassment to sign “gag orders” that kept them from discussing such problems with their co-workers.
On top of all of this, T-Mobile continues to be one of the most aggressively anti-union companies in the industry.
Joshua Coleman was one of the top performers at the T-Mobile call center in Wichita, Kansas—the company even awarded him a free vacation to Puerto Rico. But when they discovered Coleman was a union supporter, they not only canceled his vacation, but fired him. When the NLRB dinged them for unlawful dismissal, T-Mobile settled for $40,000 without admitting wrongdoing.
And if workers at any company need a union, it’s T-Mobile. In contrast to the company’s laid-back, “un-carrier” image, employees in T-Mobile call centers are subject to high-stakes metrics that take into account everything from number of seconds on a call to when they go to the bathroom. Severe anxiety and panic attacks are common.
Greenhouse interviewed former customer service rep Julia Crouse, who reported vomiting from stress before work and that her manager “often ordered employees who had the worst sales numbers or longest average call times to wear a dunce cap.”
Help might soon be on the way. The organization T-Mobile Workers United has brought together employees from all over the country to support each other and push to change T-Mobile’s policies. This week,TU became an organizing local with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), with none other than fired worker Joshua Coleman as one of its leaders.
This article originally appeared on aflcio.org on March 10, 2016. Reprinted with permission.
Doug Foote is the Social Media and Campaign Specialist at Working America. He joined Working America in 2011 after serving as New Media Director for the successful 2010 reelection campaign of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).