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AFL-CIO weighs in on T-Mobile's labor disputes

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The AFL-CIO weighed in on T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) disputes over working conditions, urging the carrier to change its policies regarding confidentiality agreements for internal investigations and to inform employees of their rights as potential whistleblowers.

A judge from the National Labor Relations Board ruled in August that the nation's third-largest carrier violated U.S. labor law in Maine and South Carolina when it had employees sign a confidentiality agreement after it launched an investigation into employee complaints. A call center employee in Maine reported sexual harassment by a supervisor and was asked to sign an agreement that she wouldn't talk to anyone about the case.

In an open letter to a member of T-Mobile's board of directors, the labor organization said the carrier should revise the terms of the agreements and inform employees that they may contact governmental authorities as whistleblowers without fear of retribution.

"T-Mobile should amend the terms of its confidentiality agreements to explicitly permit communications with governmental entities," the AFL-CIO advised. "T-Mobile employees who have previously signed confidentiality agreements should be informed that they are not prohibited from contacting governmental entities."

A T-Mobile spokesperson described the letter as "misleading and inaccurate." The company also noted that fewer than 30 of its 48,000 employees have chosen to join the Communications Workers of America, which helped publicize the allegations in Maine.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported last month that two major investors in T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom had expressed concern about the treatment of T-Mobile employees. Legislators in Washington and Berlin had called on the German government to put pressure on T-Mobile, according to Reuters, to make sure the company respects workers' rights.

The German government controls 30 percent of Deutsche Telekom.

Twenty-five members of Congress wrote a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Reuters also noted, requesting that she look into the matter. And in August a group of 20 House Democrats wrote Deutsche Telekom Timotheus Hoettges seeking more information on T-Mobile's labor practices.

For more:
- see this AFL-CIO letter

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