“The Job Isn’t the Problem. It’s the Management”

9 March 2011: Keeley Mosley spent nine months as a customer service representative in 2010 and January 2011 at T-Mobile’s Oakland, Maine, call center. After she became a union supporter, her opportunities for special projects and promotions disappeared.

Keeley Mosley wasn’t for or against unions when she started working at T-Mobile. The pay wasn’t bad, and she was impressed by the company’s initial eight-week training course.

But the high-stress job and harsh treatment from bosses quickly took its toll. “It was slowly killing me,” Mosley says. Her coworkers suffered, too. Turnover, voluntary and involuntary, was high. Supervisors played favorites. Meeting contradictory standards set for handling calls was nearly impossible. Despite the good training early on, new equipment, products and services were thrown at workers later with nothing more than a handout. And when T-Mobile began pushing them to sell, “at that point we’d had no training, but it still counted against us if we did poorly.”

Mosley also was unsettled by the way the company bad-mouthed unions when CWA organizers came to talk to workers, which first happened when she was in training.

“It sounded right out of an anti-union handbook,” she says. “It was, ‘Once a union comes in, you have to have a union member present at all coachings, at all discussions of your performance, which is going to prevent you from getting the feedback that you can use to better yourself. If you get a union in, they’re going to take away your health benefits to bargain for other things.’

“I didn’t actually know anything about the union or about what they were trying to do. Unfortunately I think a lot of people just kind of took it as, ‘Oh, this is my supervisor. This must be what it’s about because she’s been teaching us for eight weeks, so let’s just listen to what she has to say.’ It was definitely a one-side discussion,” she says.

Mosley was unusually brave, deciding to support the union and even putting a CWA sign in her cubicle. She’d been on track for a promotion but “from that point, I wasn’t as favorable to them, I guess would be the word.” In January 2011, she left T-Mobile for a new job but is still helping the organizing drive.

She says first and foremost a union would give workers more job security, helping ease some of their stress. “I truly believe that the call center will be a lot better off if we can get a union.”