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.

Filed Under: mergers, promises, telcos, unions
Companies: at&t, communications workers of america, cwa


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 9:43am

    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.

    Is that really true? Isn't the whole point of unions to be outside the control of the company so that the employees themselves have some collective power?

    I can't wait for the next FCC in the hope that it will grow teeth again and put these abominations in their place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      With the regulatory capture in place, the next FCC will be just as useless as the current one. It is almost as if the whole thing was planned this way...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 10:34am

    Unions long ago were for the workers
    Nowadays the unions are only for those in charge of the unions
    whose main goal seem to be to extract as much as they can pocket from
    their union brothers .
    God forbid a union worker actually needs the unions help .
    They lord over you stating that if its not in the contract your shit out of luck .
    All members who work in the construction trade should carry their own
    disability insurance because if you get a career ending injury the union will not help in any way that is not included in your contract .
    ie: they ain't gonna help you in any way shape or form And whatever they do provide comes with more strings attached than you can believe .
    So follow back the money in these mergers and lo and behold its amazing how much the friends and families of union reps profit from these mergers even though the reps hands are clean .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 11:12am

      Re:

      This probably doesn't apply to all unions. Union leaders' cozy relationships with management tend to be at fault for limiting workers' power.

      Union jobs tend to provide better pay and better benefits versus non-union in the same industry/trade.

      For some time, we've had the NLRB and DOL both seemingly working against the interests of workers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 11:24am

    You really have to be either a retard or on are on it, being paid off to believe a word any of these promises of a merger will bring. It's always ALL a FLAT OUT LIE. ALWAYS!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 1:09pm

    Surely the biggest problem is how easily judges get totally bamboozled and allow these mergers through without putting any safety nets in place for when the true nature of the conditions are revealed and the harm then done? How can any judicial person even contemplate allowing these deals to move ahead, given the total failure of all previous ones, unless there is some sort of 'encouragement' given? I'm sorry to say this but if it is not done for personal gain, the person giving tge go ahead, instead of being an extremely intelligent and knowledgeable person, must be ss thick as fuck!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2019 @ 1:24pm

    Too bad the contracts don't allow the merger to be undone.

    Since we know that the deals created to allow mergers are only going to benefit the company, maybe we should have the deals reversible if any of the deal agreements are unmet after x time. If this country were still on the side of the consumer, we might even see changes like that, sadly it has been decades since this has been even close to true.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 22 Jul 2019 @ 3:09pm

    Telecom Union != ITU

    Attention Bellheads:

    "Telecom Union" is the CWA trade union.

    Do not confuse with the "International Telecommunications Union"; https://www.itu.int, which is not a trade union.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 22 Jul 2019 @ 4:13pm

    Shut the Greedy Bastards @ AT&T Down

    Telecom Union Got Hoodwinked Into Supporting AT&T's Shitty Merger

    Time for Communications Workers of America - which already represents about 90,000 AT&T employees - to leverage the collective power of it's union members and strike!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    paid off bribery, 22 Jul 2019 @ 4:39pm

    unions paid off beforehand bribary

    The unions were paid off beforehand bribary. The ones that got the payout left the union knowing of their treachary. default death to people who accept bribes for lies and making others lives worse. death to all evil person who accepts bribes. kill them for bribary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Jul 2019 @ 1:21am

    AT&T style

    Our customers need to drop their pants, there's going to be a merger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 24 Jul 2019 @ 7:31am

    Temporary

    Not to mention any conditions are short term. They promise not to raise prices or lay off workers for three years or five years. What good is that when you know that's exactly what they're going to do as soon as the clock runs out. Set those conditions for 30 or 50 years and see how excited the companies are about the merger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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