CWA: Shame on Deutsche Telekom

Friday, June 6, 2014

Company Refuses to Support Human Rights Proposal at T-Mobile that it Follows in its European Operations

BELLEVUE, Wash. – At the T-Mobile US (NYSE: TMUS) annual meeting, shareholders considered a proposal urging the Board of Directors to disclose how it assesses human rights risks in its operations and supply chain. In a shameful move, parent company Deutsche Telekom, which owns 67 percent of TMUS shares, voted against the proposal, and the proposal was defeated.

The final vote will be announced in the next few days in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing.

The proposal, No. 4 on the company’s proxy card, called on the board to report on its compliance with the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, also commonly known as the “Ruggie Principles.”  Hundreds companies currently support the Ruggie Principles, including Deutsche Telekom, which wrote the language into its social charter. Institutional Shareholder Services, the leading proxy advisory firm, recommended that T-Mobile shareholders vote for the proposal.

T-Mobile’s attacks on workers’ rights have set off alarm bells. In an extraordinary decision, the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board has moved to consolidate multiple unfair labor practice complaints that have been brought against T-Mobile US. The telecommunications company has been cited for its relentless and escalating attempts over the past 10 years to stop workers from obtaining union representation. The company will need to defend its systemic anti-union behavior and the Board can order broad relief for employees at every TMUS location. There is clear evidence that T-Mobile US headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., has been monitoring and orchestrating all union organizing activities nationwide. The hearings will resume in September in Albuquerque, N.M.

“The company designs policies to restrict workers’ rights of freedom of association. Will you commit to an end to this abuse?” Amber Diaz, a former T-Mobile employee who was illegally fired for exercising her rights to organize a union, asked Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges at the meeting. John Legere answered instead and stated the company did not agree with the premise of the question and refused to say anything further.

Diaz pointed out that some call center workers are paid so little that they receive government assistant, and asked about the $29 million pay package of CEO John Legere, which equals the pay of about 2,000 call center workers. Mr. Höettges responded that Mr. Legere’s pay was competitive or maybe even low by industry standards.

Contact: Candice Johnson, CWA Communications,