Going Global at T-Mobile: German Union Members Seek Better Treatment for U.S. Wireless Workers
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Schonau says that learning about T-Mobile’s resistance to unionization, plus the high levels of job stress and insecurity faced by its U.S. workforce, “moved me deeply, even made me angry.” In a well-documented post-trip report, (available at: http://cwafiles.org/tmobile/201209-veri-di-englishfinal.pdf), Schonau and his fellow travelers expressed shock and dismay at the wireless-worker abuse they discovered in the land of the free and home of the brave.
What disturbed Schonau most was the “degrading” practice known, in T-Mobile lingo, as “decision time.” As Schonau reported, “Before an employee is threatened with dismissal for alleged ‘poor performance,’ he or she has to go home, sometimes write an essay, but always return to his/her supervisor to describe ‘why the company should keep me, why I want to keep working at the company.’ The supervisor will then decide whether he/she stays or leaves.”
Schonau found this exercise of arbitrary power, by first-line supervisors, to be “absolutely unbelievable.” DT’s disciplinary procedures in Germany include the right to union representation and a fair hearing. Lay-offs can’t occur without a lengthy process of negotiation and guaranteed eligibility for jobless benefits that are much more generous than unemployment insurance anywhere in the U.S.
As a longtime T-Mobile technician in Germany, Schonau was “always proud to be an employee there.” But, now, he says, “I have my doubts regarding the company. That the company can treat people like that — I guess it’s just because they can. We need to fight this behavior by management in Germany and around the world. It is unacceptable!”