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Workers: T-Mobile is the Walmart of wireless

T-Mobile-shareholders-meetingBELLEVUE (June 6, 2014) — Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), joined by student activists from United Students Against Sweatshops and AFL-CIO union supporters, leafleted outside the T-Mobile US annual meeting Thursday to show shareholders and the public that T-Mobile, despite the advertising dollars spent branding itself as the “cool wireless company,” is really just like Walmart, another documented labor law violator.

Inside the meeting, Amber Diaz, a TU member and former T-Mobile employee from Albuquerque, N.M., called on Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges to justify the $29 million salary paid last year to T-Mobile US CEO John Legere, while thousands of T-Mobile workers are paid wages that are so low that they qualify for government assistance, including food stamps and other aid. DT is the parent company of T-Mobile US.

Diaz was fired for her union activities by T-Mobile, despite having worked for eight years as a top producer. A National Labor Relations Board hearing about her illegal firing and other illegal actions by T-Mobile will begin in September.

“Mr. Höttges, is ‘reasonable remuneration’ a wage so low a worker needs government assistance? Ultimately, taxpayers are subsidizing the company, and that fact can hurt T-Mobile’s image. Will you commit to ending poverty wages at T-Mobile? We at T-Mobile would love to see a contract. Mr. Legere has a contract. Shouldn’t workers also have contracts?” she asked.

t-mobile-walmartShareholders also voted on a proposal urging the T-Mobile Board of Directors to disclose how it assesses human rights risks in its operations and supply chain. The proposal was presented by The Marco Consulting Group, a Chicago-based registered investment adviser, and the AFL-CIO’s Office on Investment. It had the support of Institutional Shareholder Services, the leading proxy advisory firm. The proposal was based on the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are endorsed by T-Mobile parent DT, but DT, which owns 67 percent of T-Mobile US, refused to support the proposal.

The proposal calls on T-Mobile to report on human rights risks in its own operations and in its supply chain. That would include the recent consolidation of complaints by the NLRB general counsel that T-Mobile violated workers’ rights under federal labor law. Walmart is the only other U.S. employer to have faced a consolidated complaint for its federal labor law violations.

Brandon Rees, deputy director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, said:

Human rights violations can have detrimental effects on a company’s reputation and its brand name. Ensuring that T-Mobile complies with human rights is good for T-Mobile’s business and its shareholders.

CWA and AFL-CIO Now contributed to this report.

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