CWA’s partnership with ver.di, Germany’s largest union representing telecommunications workers, has been an effective way to advance worker rights in both countries.
CWA and ver.di formed TU to stop the double standard that has allowed T-Mobile USA to harass and intimidate workers in the US who want union representation. In this model, Lothar Schröder, an executive board member of ver.di, is responsible for relations with Deutsche Telekom and CWA’s President Larry Cohen has responsibilities for organizing and working with telecom workers and TU members in the U.S.
Through TU, CWA and ver.di are working to win agreement from Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA’s parent company, that it will guarantee workers’ bargaining and organizing rights.
Unlike in the U.S., where T-Mobile management is openly hostile to workers who want a union voice, in Germany, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile fully acknowledge the rights of workers to have union representation.
CWA President Larry Cohen said the goal of TU was to overcome this double standard. “We’re saying to multinational companies, in this case, Deutsche Telekom, that we’re tired of the face of cooperation in Germany and the club of intolerance in the United States.”
Action at the DT Annual Meeting
In 2010, ver.di members stood with T-Mobile USA workers at the DT annual meeting, calling on the company to abandon its assault on U.S. workers who want to know more about the benefits of a union. “What is the point of having a ‘Social Charter’ or ‘executive guidelines’ if employees have to fear for their jobs when accepting flyers from trade unions or when contacting them directly?’ Kornelia Dubbel, a ver.di member and member of the T-Mobile advisory board asked DT executives.
Ver.di members leafleted shareholders as they entered the meeting and compared T-Mobile USA’s labor policies to “the Wild West.”
TU also presented DT executives with a letter from 24 Democratic members of the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, which called on CEO Rene Olbermann to ensure that U.S. workers’ rights are protected.
While in Germany, CWA and ver.di members of TU met with DT and T-Mobile technicians, retail and customer care workers, and again saw the contrast between how management treats workers in those two countries. Read more at Lowering the Bar for Us, CWA's T-Mobile public campaign website.
The TU website provides an opportunity for T-Mobile workers in the United States and Germany, and other wireless workers in the U.S., to connect with one another and share their experiences.
New Report on DT’s Double Standard
In 2009, these abuses were the focus of “Lowering the Bar or Setting the Standard,” a report by Professor John Logan of San Francisco State released by American Rights at Work. The report outlined the vast difference in how T-Mobile workers are treated in Germany and the United States. Click here to download a copy of the report.