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Truth to Power: Fired T-Mobile Workers Questions CEO About its U.S. Labor Practices

How is it that Deutsche Telekom manages to ignore criticisms from home and abroad of subsidiary T-Mobile US for violating the rights of workers, Josh Coleman wanted to know?

How is it that Deutsche Telekom manages to ignore criticisms from home and abroad of subsidiary T-Mobile US for violating the rights of workers, Josh Coleman wanted to know?

Coleman asked DT's CEO Timotheus Hoettges and the other board members at the May 15 annual meeting of the Deutsche Telekom board in Cologne why the corporation is avoiding or ignoring the T-Mobile problem. German members of parliament have criticized DT for its reluctance to deal with T-Mobile's anti-labor practices. The German government is a large shareholder in DT.

"Do you influence the American management in order to stop these anti-employee practices?" Coleman asked. "I am aware that many organizations, politicians, customers and investors criticize Deutsche Telekom's behavior and have addressed this in letters. The allegations are diverse and even more serious."

Coleman, in his work for T-Mobile's Wichita, KS, call center, won many awards and was well regarded by supervisors. That is, until they became aware of his efforts to organize coworkers into a union. Overnight, they changed their assessment of him, telling him his work no longer measured up.

"That is a lie," Coleman said.

5_Kornelia_TU

Kornelia Dubbel spreads the TU message at the ITUC meeting. Dubbel, along with Josh Coleman, spoke at the Deutsche Telekom annual meeting in Cologne.

He sought to create a bargaining unit because he felt his coworkers needed a structure for their future and to protect them against the arbitrary manner in which they were supervised. T-Mobile instead mounted a campaign of harassment and intimidation against worker activists. Supervisors held captive audience interrogations of workers and illegally fired others.

DT's workforce in Germany and the rest of Europe have bargaining rights and worker representatives serve on corporations' supervisory boards. Kornelia Dubbel, a ver.di member and member of the T-Mobile supervisory board, also spoke at the annual meeting. Dubbel has been a strong advocate for the rights of T-Mobile US workers to have union representation, just as telecom workers in Germany do.

"Unfortunately, the employees have no voice in the company, no works council like in Germany, no union," Coleman said. "Deutsche Telekom and other German companies publicly praise the 'social partnership' practice and the German system of co-determination. Why do you allow practices that T-Mobile is fighting and preventing, often coupled with high costs of union avoidance lawyers?"