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CWA and the National Employment Law Project released a new report that provides a first-of-its-kind look at the effects of outsourcing in the wireless telecom industry. The report, “Broken Network: Workers Expose Harms of Wireless Telecom Carriers’ Outsourcing to ‘Authorized Retailers',” includes a survey of over 200 workers from nearly 45 states at “authorized retailers” for the industry’s three dominant carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Wireless carriers currently outsource 60 to 80 percent of their branded retail locations to authorized retailers. AT&T alone has closed nearly 600 of its corporate-owned stores since 2018 in favor of using authorized retailers.
“Outsourcing is a tactic that cuts corners and falls directly in line with the profit-boosting strategies of vulture capitalist firms like Elliott Management. It is not sustainable, and it comes at the cost of workers and customer service. It’s time companies like AT&T and Verizon adjust their game plan and start putting their workforce and the needs of customers first,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt.
Unlike workers at corporate stores, workers at authorized retail stores do not have the ability to form a union and bargain directly with the wireless company that holds power over their wages and working conditions. As a result, workers at authorized retail stores face significant disadvantages when it comes to pay, benefits, and working conditions. The practice of outsourcing to authorized retailers also shields the wireless carriers from accountability for the treatment of their workers while still exerting a significant level of control over the operations of the authorized retail stores. The report includes several solutions to curtail the impact of outsourcing including passing several key pieces of legislation such as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Read more here.