The speed of digital advancements is what drives our economy. Since President Donald Trump took office, America has enjoyed an economic boom, with astonishingly low unemployment numbers and record capital investments in new technology that would have once seemed like science fiction.
With our smartphones and wireless data plans, more workers can telecommute today than ever before. This technology advances at lightning speed, which is why America is currently in a race with China and other countries to have a robust 5G network. This would require a massive infrastructure investment to build a network that offers previously impossible connectivity speeds – over 100 Mbps – over cellular wireless.
T-Mobile is one company who is pledging to build an impressive 5G network while hiring thousands of workers in the process, and they need to merge with Sprint to remain competitive. However, as expected in the Washington, D.C. swamp, some groups are working to block the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile by spreading blatant falsehoods.
One of those groups is the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Before a recent House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the merger, CWA President Christopher Shelton testified that “the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint will eliminate 30,000 jobs across the country… ,” including retail jobs and headquarter employees.
It’s a false claim CWA has been peddling for some time and nothing could be further from the truth!
In response, Sprint’s Executive Chairman, Marcelo Claure, fired back at Shelton in the hearing saying “it is crazy to say that we [Sprint] are going to fire 30,000 people. Sprint has 28,000 people. Do the math.”
Mr. Shelton also claimed “in recent years, T-Mobile has been the subject of more unfair labor practice charges per employee than any other big business in the United States,” while making similar accusations against Sprint.
This is ironic considering a quick search of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) data appears to show CWA itself has had more than 700 unfair labor practice charges filed against it between 2011 and 2018.
With another quick search, it appears that in 2018, T-Mobile received only one unfair labor practice charge -- filed in 2017 -- while more than 70 charges appear to be attributed to CWA. The truth is, T-Mobile has a solid labor record. If CWA really cared about the welfare of its members, it would not have engaged in this smear campaign.
So, why is CWA against this merger? After all, they supported the most recent merger between AT&T and Time-Warner, even despite the Justice Department's concerns about the size and scope of the $85 billion acquisition from America's second largest wireless provider.
The answer is simple: CWA is “contractually obligated” to support AT&T, as Mr. Claure said during the hearing.
As reported last month, a contract between CWA and AT&T requires the union to support AT&T’s business objectives, including legislative agenda, with the agreement between the two entities saying “the Union hereby agrees to continue its support before the appropriate regulatory and legislative bodies for the Company's efforts to remain competitive in, and/or gain entry to, all telecommunications and related markets.” And, if CWA disagrees with AT&T’s positions, they can do so provided it gives AT&T advanced notice.
America is no doubt in a tough fight to win the global race to 5G. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have repeatedly laid out why this merger will help America get there first, from better wireless internet service and major infrastructure spending to countless new high-tech jobs. To keep the Trump economy strong and growing, and to help America stay competitive technologically, we must reject the fear and demagoguery coming from the small chorus that is trying to derail this effort.
It seems clear that CWA is doing AT&T’s dirty work to try and block this merger because if they weren’t, Mr. Shelton would be more interested in talking about facts, instead of funny math that doesn’t add up.
Ken Blackwell is a former domestic policy advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team and former Treasurer of the State of Ohio.