German Union ver.di Demands Respect for T-Mobile Workers in the US

By Ado Wilhelm, Campaign Director, “We Expect Better”

Last month about 300 people attended a forum in Germany where representatives of workers at Deutsche Telekom (DT) confronted executives, including CEO Tim Höttges, about unfair workplace practices at its subsidiary T-Mobile US (TMUS).

Leaders of my union in Germany, ver.di, forcefully condemned the behavior of DT, whose leaders have refused to intervene on behalf of TMUS workers despite the blatant double standard that exists at the company. Management at DT respect the rights of German workers to collectively bargain while turning a blind eye to TMUS management’s harassment and intimidation of workers who try to organize in the US.

DT worker representatives issued a demand for respect, decency, and fairness at TMUS to Höttges during the meeting. Lothar Schröder, the head of ver.di’s telecom division and a member of the DT supervisory board, and Frank Bsirske, ver.di chairman, spoke in favor of the demand. Members of the audience engaged in the often heated discussion as well.

In response, CEO Höttges acknowledged the importance of TMUS profits to DT, which is clearly the primary reason he refuses to ensure freedom of association for his American workforce.

At every turn, ver.di leaders pushed back. “DT has the majority on the Board and Mr. Höttges is the Chair, so it is possible for you to object to these practices,” said Bsirske. “This is indecent.”

We will continue to inform DT employees throughout Germany about this truly indecent double standard and our fight for fairness at TMUS. This week, I spoke to a gathering of more than 2,000 DT workers in Erfurt and more than 100 joined T-Mobile Workers United.

The effort to bring DT into the fight for decency at T-Mobile has been at the heart of T-Mobile Workers United since the beginning. Members of ver.di throughout Germany are proud to stand in solidarity with TMUS workers and to hold DT executives accountable for the double standard that allows rampant violations of workers’ rights in the USA.