Connecticut Techs Sign Collective Bargaining Agreement with T-Mobile

8. August 2012: On Saturday, July 28, 2012, the Communications Workers of America and CWA Local 1298 reached agreement with T-Mobile USA on a contract for technicians in Connecticut. This is the first labor agreement in the United States covering T-Mobile workers. Three days later members ratified the contract unanimously.

Agreement on the contract, which will be in effect until May 30, 2014, came after months of negotiations between CWA and the T-Mobile Bargaining Committee. Local 1298 and the Connecticut T-Mobile technicians faced a company that bitterly opposed the workers’ successful attempt to form a union and carried that opposition into bargaining a first contract.

Highlights of the contract include:
- A “Just Cause” standard for disciplinary action, suspensions and termination. The “Just Cause” standard will prevent workers represented by the union from being disciplined arbitrarily and hold the company to acknowledged standards it will have to meet if it wants to take action against a worker covered by the contract.
- A grievance and arbitration procedure that will allow technicians in the Connecticut unit to challenge and reverse unfair and unjust actions taken by the company and make sure the company lives up to the contract it signs.

- Protection against the subcontracting of work. The company will not be able to subcontract bargaining unit work for the purpose of replacing union-represented technicians and eliminating the bargaining unit. If, in unforeseen and exceptional circumstances, the company considers subcontracting that might eliminate union jobs, it must first notify the union and discuss alternatives to cutting jobs.
- Wages and benefits identical to all other employees of T-Mobile US that can only be changed if they are changed for all other T-Mobile employees.

Many of the contract’s provision were taken directly from the T-Mobile handbook. The difference between the provisions in the contract covering Connecticut T-Mobile technicians is that the company cannot change or eliminate them. The provisions in the handbook that cover T-Mobile employees who do not have a union and a contract can be changed or eliminated by the company at any time and for any reason.

In an article on its website, Local 1298 thanked ver.di for its support through both the election campaign and the year of bargaining. In June and July 2012, ver.di leaders attended bargaining sessions. The German union also alerted media frequently about the union avoidance tactics of both T-Mobile management and the outside legal firm Proskauer Rose that delayed the initial election in July 2011 and then appeared to have strung out negotiations for over a year. In ways that were not always visible, ver.di urged German management to reach agreement on a fair contract.

Local 1298 also thanked Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman John Larson who met with T-Mobile techs and urged German management not to interfere in the election. Later they were instrumental in urging both Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile to bargain in good faith. The entire Connecticut Congressional delegation wrote Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann, urging DT to end immediately the stall tactics of its outside counsel Proskauer Rose and to reach an agreement quickly.