Delegation Diary, Day 2: Learning about the war on workers
Conny is from a T-Mobile retail shop in Germany and is a member of the works council. The trip with the ver.di delegation is her first time in the U.S. On the second day in Washington D.C., ver.di members met with co-workers of T-Mobile U.S. and AT&T and CWA staff.
It's my first visit to the United States. I met today with T-Mobile workers at CWA headquarter in Washington DC. Arriving there I am welcomed with the kindness and openness of our co-workers and the people of CWA. As a starter, George Kohl of CWA explained how workers organize unions. I already knew about the difficulties but I didn`t know that the US system gives managers so many opportunities to constrain organizing efforts. He also talked about how in the current Republican primaries some candidates declare that unions are unconstitutional. I couldn't believe that this is possible in the so-called "land of the free."
It makes me really angry that employees are intimidated and harassed when they want to join a union. Companies like T-Mobile seem to use every possible tactic to prevent unionization. Then a tech from Long Island talked about his experience with anti-union tactics. For instance, the management delayed the election date to win more time for their interference strategies. In the case of the techs in Connecticut, the union won the elections, but the fight still goes on. Now the company refuses to bargain in good faith with them.
I think our colleagues are quite brave and have a lot of courage as they fight for their rights despite their own personal risks. They are all employed on an at-will basis, which means that they can be fired from one day to another. So they really worry about their future.
But it does not have to be this way. Two employees of the wireless provider AT&T explain their situation to us later the day. Their company is unionized and although they still have a lot of struggles, this example gives T-Mobile employees some hope that things can change.
Nowhere in the world should employees be treated in such an disrespectful way. A German company, such as Deutsche Telekom, should live up to their standards -- not only in Germany but also in the United States and in all other countries in which it operates.
photo: meeting at CWA headquarters