With the proposed merger of T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, and MetroPCS currently in review by the Federal Communications Commission, a delegation of German trade unionists and representatives of the Communications Workers of America met with Chattanooga leaders on Thursday to express support for saving local jobs.
The Hamilton County T-Mobile call center, at the intersection of Highway 153 and Lee Highway, employs more than 400 workers, according to CWA representatives. Both the German and American labor representatives expressed their concerns about the impact of the proposed T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger on jobs at the Hamilton County T-Mobile call center.
Currently, MetroPCS outsources and offshores all of its customer service work. They noted that in June 2012, T-Mobile USA closed seven U.S. call centers, displacing 3,300 workers, and the Department of Labor found that a number of those jobs were sent offshore. CWA has urged the FCC to approve the merger only on the condition that call center jobs not be outsourced or offshored.
When the 2005 announcement of T-Mobile’s call center opening was made, it was touted as another example of tax incentives, paid for by Tennessee taxpayers, bringing jobs in and improving the local economy. The company received at least $2.2 million in economic development subsidies from the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Tom Sugrue, vice president of government affairs for T-Mobile USA, Inc. was quoted in the announcement as saying, "Our Customer Service employees play a vital role in our company's success. That's why we’re coming back to Tennessee. The culture and residents of Tennessee are very much service oriented, which is a perfect match with T-Mobile's values. This has been reinforced with our success in Nashville and our interactions with state and local government officials throughout the site selection process for Chattanooga."
CWA representatives are urging both local and state officials to support retaining the call center and its employees. A decision will likely be made within the next few months by the FCC; if approved, the merger could be finalized before June 30.