NLRB Finds Widespread Union Suppression Policy at T-Mobile U.S.


A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge recently ruled that T-Mobile U.S. is guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations.  The ruling came after the NLRB rolled multiple complaints for illegal actions in Albuquerque, Wichita, New York City, and Charleston into one case.  All complaints revolved around T-Mobile US blocking its workers from organizing or even talking about issues at work.  Judge Christine Dibble ordered T-Mobile to rescind the policies, which affect 40,000 workers.

In a statement, CWA President Larry Cohen said:

“This decision exposes the deliberate campaign by T-Mobile US management to break the law systematically and on a nationwide scale, blocking workers from exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively. This behavior can only be changed by a nationwide remedy to restore workers’ rights. Deutsche Telekom, the principal owner of T-Mobile US, has claimed that its U.S. subsidiary follows the law. Now we have the official word: T-Mobile US is a lawbreaker. Bonn, the headquarters of DT, no longer can hide behind the false statements made by T-Mobile US executives. These behaviors would be almost unimaginable in Germany or any other democracy in the world.”

The violations are widespread and complex.  As the trial moved forward, more complaints against the company were made by the NLRB on behalf of the workers.  In June, another case in Charleston is expected to begin.  

The franken-case shows that T-Mobile’s problems are not limited to specific regions. CWA reviewed Judge Dibble’s decision:

Over and over again, the decision finds that the corporate policies “would chill employees in the exercise of their…rights” or would be construed “as restricting [an employee’s] rights to engage in protected concerted activities, including unionizing efforts.” Judge Dibble found that T-Mobile US’s Wage and Hour Complaint Procedure, for example, “tends to inhibit employees from banding together.” She writes that the corporate procedure’s requirement that an employee notify management of a wage issue first, “in combination with the threat of discipline for failing to adhere to the rule, would ‘reasonably tend to inhibit employees from bringing wage-related complaints to, and seeking redress from, entities other than the Respondent, and restrains the employees’ …rights to engage in concerted activities for collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.

According to the ruling, T-Mobile US’s email policy and various confidentiality policies violate the law by restricting employees’ ability to disclose or discuss basic workplace issues, such as their wages. Similarly, Judge Dibble has ruled that the company’s policy restricting employees’ communications with the media is illegal, as it prohibits employees from speaking out on inquiries about wages or other conditions of employment. In all, Judge Dibble found that 11 of the 13 corporate policies or provisions at issue in the case are illegal.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a CWA member and small business owner, said:

“T-Mobile employees have come to Capitol Hill to share their stories of fear and intimidation and efforts to block workers from organizing. These workers have had to put up with an outright hostile environment in violation of their basic constitutional rights. Today’s decision is a huge win for every hardworking American who is fighting for their right to organize and demand better wages and more job security.”

In total, Judge Dibble found that 11 of the 13 policies in question were illegal.  Nonetheless, T-Mobile brushed off the ruling in a statement:

“This is simply a ruling about a technical issue in the law that relates to policies that are common to companies across the country.  There are no allegations that any employee has been impacted by these policies.”

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