T-Mobile not commenting on reports of layoffs in prepaid unit

T-Mobile is not commenting on reports that the company has laid off a number of employees in the Metro by T-Mobile prepaid business.

The layoffs were first reported by Light Reading, which cited three people familiar with the company.

That prompted the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to issue a statement on Friday reminding everyone that one of the big reasons it opposed the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint was the loss of jobs. A CWA analysis found the merger would result in the loss of up to 30,000 jobs.

“T-Mobile is so eager to pad its executives’ bank accounts that they couldn’t even wait until the merger has gone through to start firing people,” said CWA President Chris Shelton in a statement. “Since this deal was first announced, we’ve been sounding the alarm that the merger means tens of thousands of job cuts are coming. Sure enough, here they are. If the merger passes the final hurdles, we can expect thousands more. That’s why these workers need a voice at the table to protect their jobs and wages.”

CWA’s 2018 analysis showed MetroPCS with 9,869 full-service retail locations and Boost with 5,576 locations. MetroPCS and Boost retail stores are often located very close to one another in similar geographies around the country, and virtually all of the locations are operated by independent authorized retailers. (Dealers have been using banners at stores to indicate MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile since there's been a rebranding underway.)

Initially when the T-Mobile/Sprint deal was proposed, there was concern that redundancy between the prepaid brands would automatically mean the elimination of stores. When it was decided that Boost will go to Dish, that concern was eliminated, but dealers still have not heard directly from Dish or T-Mobile that they’re going to retain all or a large percentage of the stores, according to Adam Wolf, president of the National Wireless Independent Dealers Association (NWIDA).  

While executives have promised they wouldn’t fire Sprint employees, they didn’t address the dealers, who are not direct employees, he noted.

NWIDA posted a notice on Wednesday saying a fairly large number of Metro by T-Mobile inside staff were let go by T-Mobile. “Apparently, all departments that 'ran reports' including departments and positions like analysts and administrative assistants, as well as other staff, in finance, operations, training and business development were told that T-Mobile would use the corporate departments to provide those services to Metro. They were deemed redundant and have been released,” NWIDA stated.

T-Mobile’s combination with Sprint received the green light from Judge Victor Marrero on February 11. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the state AGs along with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, announced on February 16 that her office would not appeal the decision.

The prepaid market was one of the concerns that the other states cited when they announced their antitrust suit in an attempt to block the combination. In fact, their suit asserted that the merger would be particularly harmful to prepaid subscribers. For many people with lower incomes who can’t pass a credit check, their best option is buying wireless service on a prepaid basis, and that serves as their primary means of communications.

T-Mobile acquired Metro PCS in 2013 and the integration within the company was held up as a poster child for what T-Mobile could do with Sprint. Last year, long time Metro PCS executive Tom Keys stepped down and the role of EVP of Retail Sales Jon Freier was expanded to lead Metro by T-Mobile sales. In January, Freier outlined staff changes that affected Metro. 

RELATED: It’s up to Dish to make Boost great again: Adderton

Boost founder Peter Adderton has been an active advocate for keeping the Boost stores in tact and fighting on behalf of the dealers. He posted on Twitter on Thursday that he’s heard up to 20% of Metro by T-Mobile dealers could be closed, and there’s a meeting in March to decide their fate.