German union workers stand behind local T-Mobile efforts to organize
HANAHAN — In an international, national and local show of support, workers from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, and national labor leaders, as well as local elected officials, joined workers from the local T-Mobile call center Saturday in their efforts to join a union.
At the headquarters for the Communication Workers of America Local 3704 in Hanahan, T-Mobile employees who work on Daniel Island outlined difficult working conditions, efforts by management to undermine efforts for them to unionize and concerns about T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Metro PCS, the fifth-largest wireless carrier in the United States.
Metro PCS outsources 100 percent of its customer service work to overseas call centers.
Joyce Bellamy, who has worked at the call center on Daniel Island since 2004, when it was owned by Sun Com, detailed how bonuses are based on “my voc,” or “voice of the customer,” but that surveys on service can include a conversation with representatives in the Philippines.
“We are also rated by call time — calls are to be 360 seconds or less — and what they call ‘one call resolution,’ which is making sure the customer doesn’t call back. Together with ‘my voc,’ these are things we often have no control over,” Bellamy said.
“Since T-Mobile took over, we have had two raises in five years and we were just advised last week that the raise we were supposed to get in two weeks has been put on hold. We have no sick leave. If you get sick, you have to apply for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) for each sickness to cover your time off without getting a code in your file,” she said.
Bellamy added that the biggest issue for workers is daily stress and fear.
“The management uses these (company) metrics like a hammer. One phone call monitoring that your coach doesn’t like can put you in bad standing. Employees are scared because so much of this is either out of your control or subjective and you can be fired for anything.”
Four workers from Deutsche Telekom, who are in the union “ver.di,” spent the last week in Charleston with local T-Mobile workers and expressed their support for them.
The workers, Tomas Linki, Nadine Jungling, Susanne Lehmann and Haiko Lang, said their union was assured that their American counterparts were being treated fairly and were “satisfied.”
In translated German, Tomas Linki told the crowd at the union hall, “This misinformation seems to be a strategy by management to keep any kind of problems small or to ignore them altogether. They tell you that we are not unionized in Germany. But we tell you that roughly two million ver.di members have your back.”
Local T-Mobile workers’ efforts to unionize also was supported by Rep. David Mack, D-Charleston, Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District vacated by now-Sen. Tim Scott.
Hours after the union rally, Clyburn officially endorsed Colbert Busch.
Colbert Busch promised “to be a voice for you.” She added, “Know that I hear you. Know that I’m working closely with your team. And know that you are very important.”