T-Mobile struck another win, this time with the Attorney General of Nevada, who announced settlement resolving concerns related to the planned merger with Sprint. The announcement came on the same day Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office reached a settlement with T-Mobile.
Along with 5G network buildout promises and lower-priced plans that have been part of other state settlements, Nevada’s AG Aaron D. Ford disclosed that his state's agreement comes with contributions for minorities, women, small businesses and Nevada Native-American tribes.
The New T-Mobile will make a charitable contribution of $30,000,000 in three equal installments to fund programs through grants that enhance entrepreneurial opportunities for, and expand small businesses owned by, minorities and women in the state of Nevada.
The Nevada AG’s office also revealed that its negotiations with the companies will lead to protections for the rights of employees to participate in unions or organized labor, and New T-Mobile will launch a paid apprentice program, selecting between 10 and 15 apprentices per year, including at least three management or professional trainees.
Great to see @NevadaAG Ford withdraw from the State AG lawsuit, too! He recognizes that #NewTMobile will create competition and bring affordable broadband access to Nevada and across the US, especially in rural areas! #5Gforall Key info: https://t.co/oaVuUfg688— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 25, 2019
"With this settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint have demonstrated their commitment to preserve Nevada jobs, deploy a high speed 5G network across the state covering 83 percent of our rural communities, and offer low-price plans," Ford said in a statement. "Beyond these benefits, the New T-Mobile will make a significant investment to enhance service to our Native American Tribal communities, contribute to programs that enhance opportunities for minorities, women and small businesses. Because of these commitments, I can now support a merger that will preserve Nevada jobs and benefit consumers throughout our state."
But these latest tactics are not persuading the deal's staunchest opponents. In response to the news from Nevada and Texas today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union said it remains skeptical of “last-minute pledges and unenforceable commitments” from T-Mobile.
“The news out of Nevada and Texas should give little comfort to workers and consumers in either state,” said Debbie Goldman, Research and Telecommunications Policy Director for CWA, in a statement. “T-Mobile continues to rely on unenforceable commitments designed more to generate favorable publicity ahead of the state trial, rather than addressing the substantive antitrust issues and harms to workers and consumers that remain part of this proposed merger.”
CWA insists that the state agreements on jobs have no or insufficient enforcement mechanisms and monitoring to ensure compliance. “While collective bargaining would provide an important way of ensuring compliance, T-Mobile has a long track record of being hostile to workers’ rights and employees’ efforts to organize a union,” CWA stated.
In October, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced she was joining the U.S. Department of Justice along with 10 other states in support of the deal.
According to CWA, the state AG agreements with T-Mobile still leave large rural gaps: Florida (27 percent), Colorado (26 percent), Nevada (17 percent) and Mississippi (12 percent) will not have access to the new T-Mobile's mid-band high-speed wireless network six years after the deal closes. “Rather, as T-Mobile made clear in its FCC filings, New T-Mobile wireless infrastructure in these communities will be similar to what they would have under stand-alone T-Mobile's deployment plans,” CWA stated.
New York Attorney General Letitia James last week indicated she’s still concerned about the antitrust repercussions. As Wells Fargo Securities analysts noted earlier today, although the number of states fighting the deal has declined, the case will still go to trial if even one state remains in the lawsuit.
“In our view, this issue has become quite political – particularly with only Democratic AGs remaining opposed to a settlement,” the analysts wrote in an investment note. “As long as Democratic-led states like New York (leading the case) and California remain in the suit, it seems a settlement remains unlikely with each passing day, particularly with only 9 business days (including today) before the trial is set to begin on 12/9.”