May 8, 2014
A settlement was reached this week between the National Labor Relations Board, T-Mobile US, CWA and two T-Mobile workers from Wichita, Kans. – Josh Coleman and Ellen Brackeen.
The agreement vindicates Josh and Ellen, who endured an illegal firing (Josh) and unfair discipline (Ellen), all because they wanted a union voice.
The settlement is not full justice, but it is a solid step forward for workers battling anti-worker giants like T-Mobile and other companies that attack workers' rights.
T-Mobile agreed to a pay settlement for Josh, the first time the company has ever agreed to pay back wages or the equivalent. T-Mobile agreed in writing that its earlier discipline of Ellen will not be used against her in any way. Ellen will continue to lead CWA's organizing work at the Wichita call center, now without the constant fear that her family is at risk. Josh remains a committed TU activist who will continue to work for union representation for T-Mobile workers.
A top performer at the Wichita call center, Josh was disciplined and fired in 2013 after he engaged in visible union activity. An NLRB complaint was issued over this illegal action, as well as for the company's violation of Josh's rights when its managers destroyed his organizing notes.
Ellen was disciplined after she attended (on her own time) the final meeting of shareholders of MetroPCS before that company merged with T-Mobile.
Why the settlement now? The NLRB has looked at T-Mobile management's behavior in Wichita and found strong similarities to management tactics in other T-Mobile US operations. (Click here for related story.)