The National Labor Relations Board has consolidated several complaints of labor violations against T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and its MetroPCS unit into one national case. The NLRB decision does not yet represent a judgment against T-Mobile but is an escalation of the battle waged by the Communications Workers of America to get T-Mobile workers unionized.
The move paves the way for several months of hearings and a trial in Wichita, Kan., and then the proceedings will move to Albuquerque, N.M., for more testimony and evident gathering, according to the CWA, which brought the complaints. After all that, the NLRB will issue a ruling.
In its ruling, the NLRB outlined some of the practices the CWA argued are illegal, including an "overly broad and discriminatory" employee handbook that bars employees from organizing.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that since at least Dec. 7, 2012, "T-Mobile has maintained a training module titled 'Top 13 Ways To Lose Your Job' that includes an overly-broad and discriminatory PowerPoint slide presentation on confidentiality that restricts employees from discussing the content and names of witnesses in internal investigations" conducted by T-Mobile.
The complaint alleges that in May 2013 a T-Mobile manager in an Albuquerque, N.M., call center interrogated employees "about their union membership, sympathies and activities." Additionally, later in May 2013, another manager at the Albuquerque call center is accused of telling employees they could not "high-five" if they participated in any union-related activities.
"Because this is pending right now, we can't comment on specific accusations," T-Mobile spokeswoman Anne Marshall told BuzzFeed. "T-Mobile looks forward to presenting all the evidence before an administrative law judge."
The CWA has for years tried to get T-Mobile employees to unionize and has accused the company of unfair and illegal labor practices. As far back as 2009 the CWA joined with a German union called ver.di to try to persuade T-Mobile Deutsche Telekom to allow unionizing at the U.S. subsidiary--to no avail.
"The board's decision recognizes that it is time for a change in the agency's enforcement strategy," the CWA said in a statement. "The NLRB clearly is responding to the history of broken promises by T-Mobile US when it comes to following U.S. labor law. Consolidation will allow the NLRB to issue more effective remedies to finally stop T-Mobile US's outrageous conduct."
- see this CWA statement
- see this BuzzFeed article
- see this Law360 article (sub. req.)
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