Deutsche Telekom gets pressure by House Democrats on T-Mobile's U.S. labor practices

A group of 20 House Democrats wrote a letter to Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges seeking more information on the labor practices of its U.S. subsidiary T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

In March, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that T-Mobile's employment practices violated U.S. labor laws by making it difficult for workers to organize and talk about their salaries. After years of complaints from watchdogs, settlements with workers and a push by Communications Workers of America to get T-Mobile workers unionized, the judge's ruling was a major victory for labor advocates and especially the CWA.

Administrative Law Judge Christine Dibble ruled that 11 of the 13 policies that were being challenged were illegal. Dibble found that T-Mobile workers as a class were affected by the rules, and, according to the CWA, the judge's order to rescind the rules covers 40,000 workers.

T-Mobile's policies prevented workers from talking with one another about wages, from speaking to the news media about workplace conditions and from speaking with co-workers to get evidence to fight disciplinary charges.

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), pointed out in their most recent letter to Hoettges that he had responded to their June 29 letter  on July 14, wherein he said "Deutsche Telekom has no indications that T-Mobile US is not treating its workers in a legal, fair and respectful manner." That surprised them, they said, especially because T-Mobile has only appealed two of the 11 findings that it violated the law.

In their newest letter, the representatives asked whether Hoettges or other senior DT executives have reviewed the NLRB ruling. They also asked whether DT has specific policies in place to respond when its subsidiaries are found to have violated labor laws in other countries, and, if so, how they have been put into place in the U.S.

The lawmakers demanded that the company take "swift and immediate action" to come into compliance with U.S. labor law.

T-Mobile said that it disagreed with how the lawmakers portrayed the company's record, according to The Hill. "T-Mobile has a highly engaged and enthusiastic workforce of more than 45,000 employees. We strongly disagree with the characterizations made, and will respond in short order to the letter sent by certain Members of Congress," Tony Russo, the firm's vice president for federal legislative affairs, said in a statement.

For more:
- see this release
- see this letter
- see this The Hill article

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