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German Political Leaders, Scholars Call for End to Union-Busting by Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile

Open Letter to T-MobileNew York -- In an open letter published today in the New York Times, 11 leading German legal scholars and politicians called on Deutsche Telekom and other German companies to ensure that workers at German subsidiaries in the U.S., particularly T-Mobile USA, are able to “exercise their unrestricted right to opt for organized representation in the company without fear. They must not be influenced, pressured, or intimidated by employers if they exercise their basic right for freedom of association. The human right of freedom of speech notably entails this right as well.”

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom respects unions and workers’ rights, and in fact boasts of its positive relationship with unions. But in the U.S., 23,000 workers face an atmosphere of intimidation from a company that hires union busting consultants and viciously fights workers’ efforts to join a union.

The 11 national leaders and scholars called on Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile USA to “end all collaboration with U.S. consultants who advise employers how to fight employee representation.”

“Even in the Federal Republic of Germany there are shortsighted employers and lawyers who believe they can get away with a lack of integrity and respect toward unions and work councils and who think they can forgo cooperation. Practical experiences and scientific studies show, however, that employer conduct based on this model will ultimately be harmful to the company,” they wrote.

The signers include former Federal Minister of Justice Herta Däubler Gmelin, former Vice Chancellor Franz Müntefering and former Federal Minister of Defense Peter Struck.

Separately, Klaus Barthels, a Social Democratic Party leader of the German Parliament, led a delegation from Germany to the U.S., with meetings in Nashville and Frisco, Tex., with T-Mobile workers and with German embassy officials about T-Mobile USA’s intimidation of U.S. workers who want a union voice.
Just last week, T-Mobile USA announced it was closing seven call centers that employ 3,300 workers. The Company expects more restructuring that could result in the outsourcing or offshoring of tech jobs. T-Mobile USA already has sent more than 6,000 jobs to the Philippines and Honduras. The company could have opted to return those jobs to the U.S. Instead, it is closing four call centers that employ 3,300 workers, despite having received economic development taxpayer grants in four of those locations.


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