In a significant policy change following weeks of public pressure, T-Mobile US said it will change the way it sets work schedules for thousands of call center workers nationwide.
Candace Harrison, who works at the T-Mobile Albuquerque call center, speaks out for fairer scheduling.
"We are happy that the company is addressing the very issue that we have been raising about scheduling problems over the past weeks," said Ashley Charzuk, a T-Mobile retention representative and member of TU, the union of T-Mobile workers. "This is a huge success for workers, and it couldn't have been accomplished without us union activists speaking out against unfair scheduling policies."
Up until the changes, each day T-Mobile allotted a certain number of "pre-approved time-off" (PRETO) hours per center that workers could use on a first-come, first-served basis. If a worker wakes up sick, she immediately would call in to claim those hours. But if second worker also needs to call in sick, there may be too few "pre-approved" hours and the second worker is penalized for being sick. These occurrences have negative consequences for workers' rank and end-of-the-year bonus.
In May, T-Mobile announced it would double the amount of PRETO hours available for workers to request time off. In early June, the company said it was considering separating vacation and sick time. And last week, T-Mobile announced that it would be dropping the retaliation against individual workers when the facilities "pre-approved" hours are exceeded.
The changes were made just as the city council in Albuquerque, N.M. – where T-Mobile has two call centers – prepares to introduce a proposal that would implement paid sick leave and scheduling improvements. It's the result of TU, CWA, The Center for Popular Democracy, Albuquerque community organization OLÈ and a growing coalition of activists partnering to restore a fair workweek for all workers in Albuquerque. Last week the coalition hosted a town hall meeting on irregular scheduling, where Albuquerque City Council members pledged to support their fight for a fair workweek including the right to take sick leave without retaliation.