Responding to growing public pressure and local government initiatives, T-Mobile US announced last week that it would adopt a paid parental leave program. The company also said it would end an oppressive policy that required call center workers to be on the phone 96.5 percent of their work time, leaving them with virtually no time for follow up on customer issues or to make changes in customers’ accounts as needed.
This is great news for workers who often must struggle to balance their families and careers. It comes as workers at T-Mobile and a coalition of community supporters in cities like Albuquerque, N.M., step up efforts to restore a fair workweek.
Members of TU, the union of T-Mobile workers, CWA, the Center for Popular Democracy, OLÉ and other coalition partners have been raising concerns about unfair scheduling and other issues for workers at T-Mobile and other employers. Workers want a voice in the decisions that affect them in their workplace—not just the ones that the company selectively picks and chooses. That’s why T-Mobile workers are joining TU.
T-Mobile’s initial scheduling changes were made just as the Albuquerque City Council was moving forward to consider an ordinance to help workers win predictable scheduling, full-time opportunities and earned sick days. The Albuquerque coalition hosted a town hall meeting on irregular scheduling, council members pledged to support their fight for a fair workweek.
A recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision found T-Mobile guilty of engaging in illegal employment policies that prevented workers from even talking to each other about problems on the job. The judge ordered the company to rescind those policies and inform all 46,000 employees about the verdict.
Parental leave is a good first step toward helping workers balance their career and family responsibilities. But workers want real bargaining rights and the right to fairly choose union representation. That’s what T-Mobile must realize.