Telecom Union Got Hoodwinked Into Supporting AT&T's Shitty Merger
from the ill-communication dept
You may be shocked to learn this, but nearly all of the promises AT&T made in the lead up to its $86 billion merger with Time Warner wound up not being true.
The company’s promise that the deal wouldn’t result in price hikes for consumers? False. The company’s promise the deal wouldn’t result in higher prices for competitors needing access to essential AT&T content like HBO? False. AT&T’s promise they wouldn’t hide Time Warner content behind exclusivity paywalls? False. The idea that the merger would somehow create more jobs at the company? False.
Of course the press and public aren’t the only folks AT&T misled. To glean the support of the telecom sector’s biggest union, the Communications Workers of America, AT&T apparently promised that newly acquired Time Warner (and subsidiary) workers would be able to join the union. But when the time came to actually allow those employees in, guess what? AT&T suddenly declared that wouldn’t be happening for the vast majority of them:
“Of about 22,000 U.S. employees who previously worked at Time Warner, AT&T claimed the agreement applies to at most 82, a union official wrote in a letter attached to a June court filing. CWA, which already represents about 90,000 AT&T employees, has asked a judge to order arbitration. In May, the company asked that the case be dismissed, saying the company has ?the right to determine? which employees are covered by unionization provisions.”
Granted if you spend five seconds looking at the history of major mergers in the telecom and media space, none of this should be surprising.
Merger after merger, a universe of amazing promises are revealed that post deal, never actually materialize. Any conditions that are affixed are usually theatrically hollow, and adherence to them is rarely enforced. In AT&T’s case, not a single merger condition was affixed to the deal, thanks in large part to a comically-myopic ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who was oblivious to AT&T’s plan to use the death of net neutrality, regulatory capture at the FCC, and ownership of essential content as a competitive bludgeon in the streaming wars to come.
At some point, you’d think that major telecom unions would stop supporting megadeals that almost uniformly result in higher prices, less competition, and fewer jobs (given redundant positions are pretty uniformly eliminated a year or two after the ink is dry). But the CWA pretty routinely can’t help itself; it also breathlessly supported AT&T’s 2011 merger with T-Mobile, which was ultimately blocked for being exceptionally terrible. Fortunately the CWA seems to recognize the latest megamerger proposal, T-Mobile’s planned $26 billion merger with Sprint, is going to be bad for the sector as well.
At some point you’d think that everybody in the chain, from unions and consumers to the press and antitrust enforcers, would realize these industry megadeals are almost always uniformly harmful. Pre-merger promises never materialize, prices routinely go up, and job losses abound; yet each and every time there’s a new megadeal proposed we appear to have learned nothing, just like some purgatorial version of Charlie Brown and Lucy football.