With the proposed merger of T-Mobile USA (a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom) and MetroPCS currently under review by the Federal Communications Commission, a delegation of German trade unionists and representatives of the Communications Workers of America met with leaders in Chattanooga Thursday to express support for saving local jobs.
The T-Mobile call center, which is located at the intersection of Highway 153 and Lee Highway, employs about 400 people. Both American and German labor representatives expressed their concerns about the impact of the merger on jobs at the call center. Currently, MetroPCS outsources and offshores all of its customer service work.
In June, T-Mobile USA closed seven U.S. call centers, which displaced 3,300 workers. The Department of Labor found that a significant number of those jobs were sent offshore. CWA has urged the FCC to only approve the merger on the condition that call center jobs not be outsourced.
When the local call center opened in 2005, it was touted as another example of tax incentives, paid for by Tennessee taxpayers and improving the local job market and economy. The company received $2.2 million in economic development subsidies from the state of Tennessee and TVA.
"Our customer service employees play a vital role in our company's success," Tom Sugrue, vice president of government affairs for T-Mobile, said in a prepared statement. "That's why we’re coming back to Tennessee. The culture and residents of Tennessee are very much service-oriented, which is a perfect match with T-Mobile's values. This has been reinforced with our success in Nashville and our interactions with state and local government officials throughout the site-selection process for Chattanooga."
CWA representatives urge local and state officials to support the investment made by taxpayers by retaining the call center's employees. A decision will likely be made within the next few months by the FCC; the merge could be finalized by June 30 if the terms are approved.