Aug 29, 2013
Outside the MetroPCS store in Harlem are CWA organizer Zelig Stern, New York State Senator Bill Perkins, and DT Works Councilors and ver.di activists Conny Parisi-Bohmholt and Steffi Frank.
Below: New York State Senator Bill Perkins talks with NYC police who were called by T-Mobile management after refusing to hear the senator's request that the company recognize the workers' union and bargain in good faith.
An exciting partnership between ver.di members at Deutsche Telekom in Germany and their U.S. colleagues who want a CWA voice at T-Mobile US is getting stronger everyday.
In addition to the huge National Day of Action today held in 20 German cities, ver.di activists are meeting regularly with T-Mobile call center and retail workers and Metro PCS retail workers here in the U.S. to help workers build their union.
Earlier this month, Philipp Gammler and Dirk Esser, two DT Works Councilors and members of ver.di, traveled to Dallas and Houston to spend a week with retail sales workers from MetroPCS, now part of T-Mobile US, and CWA members from AT&T Mobility who are helping T-Mobile workers get the union they want.
In Germany, Works Councilors are elected worker representatives at specific companies. The Works Council is established and protected by law, and is charged with protecting the interests of workers. The company must inform the works council about everything regarding the workforce, including hiring, firings, transfers, corporate restructuring, any changes in work organization, and more.
This week, Cornelia Parisi-Bohmholt and Stefanie Frank, also longtime Works Councilors at DT and ver.di members, are meeting with MetroPCS workers and AT&T Mobility CWA members in New York and the Washington, DC, metro area.
They've visited several stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn and later met with MetroPCS workers who talked about their issues at work, why they want a union and management's response.
Parisi-Bohmholt said it was crucial for the German activists to meet with U.S. workers because whenever she has an argument with management in Germany about the struggle at T-Mobile US, she can quickly counter anyone who says, "ver.di and CWA are just lying" by asking, "Have you been there? Have you ever met a T-Mobile worker?"
"Then I say, "I have been there. I talked to these workers and I can tell you, they are not lying!" she said.
With New York State Senator Bill Perkins, the German and U.S. activists went to the MetroPCS store in Harlem. Perkins represents the district in which the store is located, and supports the workers desire for respect and fair treatment. But when Perkins tried to convey a message to management that the company should bargain in good faith with the workers, management instead called the police.
"None of my actions was threatening, illegal or unethical," Perkins said. Yet T-Mobile management in Germany "is attempting to portray me as an aggressor against them. I will closely monitor this situation going forward and continue to support MetroPCS workers' fight for respect and fairness at work," he added.