T-Mobile employees were forbidden to unionize or discuss concerns, investigation reveals

T-Mobile Event 3/18/2015
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
T-Mobile fancies itself the “Uncarrier,” and plays the role of the mold-breaking mobile company that offers its consumers better deals and service than the bigger competitors. But according to a judge for the National Labor Relations Board, T-Mobile might want to concern itself with getting its own house in order. As reported by Reuters, the company has been found to be in violation of federal labor laws.

The staff was not allowed to discuss wages, work conditions, or the details of internal investigations.

Christine Dibble, an administrative law judge for independent federal agency the National Labor Relations Board, ruled that T-Mobile had violated federal labor laws by suppressing their attempts to organize and restricting employees from discussing workplace issues.

The ruling, handed down on Wednesday, ends a ongoing dispute between T-Mobile, its majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The CWA, which already represents employees of Verizon and AT&T, has been pushing for the right of T-Mobile employees to be able to join its union.

The conflict revolved heavily around T-Mobile’s policies regarding employee email, which restricted certain types of discussion, and the confidentiality agreement in the company’s employee handbook. According to the text of the handbook, T-Mobile employees were prevented from talking to one another and with the media. The staff was not allowed to discuss wages, work conditions, or the details of internal investigations.

As a part of her ruling, Dibble required T-Mobile to notify its employees and staff that they have the right to form a union. T-Mobile must also make clear the policies that were found to be in violation of labor laws and make it clear that it is not allowed to enforce those rules.

“There are no allegations that any employee has been impacted by these policies.”

President of the CWA, Larry Cohen, issued a statement after the ruling. “This decision exposes the deliberate campaign by T-Mobile U.S. management to break the law systematically and on a nationwide scale, blocking workers from exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively,” he said.

T-Mobile opted to downplay the decision through its spokesperson, who stated, “This is simply a ruling about a technical issue in the law that relates to policies that are common to companies across the country. There are no allegations that any employee has been impacted by these policies.”

The ruling comes just a day after T-Mobile held its most recent event to unveil what it calls “Uncarrier 9.0.” At the event, T-Mobile announced its intentions to simplify business plans with its “Carrier Freedom” program. Led as usual by its charismatic CEO John Legere, who regularly plays antagonist to the rest of the mobile industry, the announcement appeared as another step by T-Mobile to improve service for its consumers.

With the ruling from a federal labor agency, which found 11 out of 13 corporate policies in the case to be illegal, T-Mobile will have to make some changes internally. Its 45,000 employees across the United States will now have the right to unionize and join the CWA.

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