Labor Practices
4:24 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Hearing Set For T-Mobile Workers' Unfair Labor Practice Claims

The union that has been trying to organize T-Mobile workers says a recent action by the federal government will boost its efforts.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered the various labor complaints against the telecom giant to be consolidated into one case.

Workers Told Not To Disclose 'Wage And Salary Information'

Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA has faced a barrage of unfair labor practice charges from call center workers around the country.

The complaints range from workers who say they were disciplined or fired for trying to unionize to workers who contend T-Mobile’s employee manual and confidentiality agreement have prevented them from discussing wages with fellow employees. That’s in violation of labor law, says Chuck Porcari, a spokesman for the Communications Workers of America.

"It’s enshrined in the values and laws of this land that employees in a facility have the right to learn what their options are as far as the collective bargaining process. And it’s our view that T-Mobile USA has prevented them from getting that information," he said.

Porcari is thrilled that the NLRB has consolidated the complaints into one case. He says it makes it easier to show there’s a company-wide effort to quash unionization.

T-Mobile Disputes Charges

For its part, T-Mobile says it "looks forward to presenting the evidence before an administrative law judge.”

In a prepared statement sent via email, the company also pointed out consolidation of the complaints does not mean the NLRB has made a finding of wrongdoing.

What A Company Can Demand In A 'Confidentiality Agreement'

The case does raise the issue of the use of company-wide “confidentiality agreements.”

Charlotte Garden, an assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law, says companies may have good reasons to ask employees to sign such agreements.

"Because they are worried about things like trade secrets, customer information — all those legitimate things that we want employers to worry about," Garden said.

But Garden says sometimes those same agreements go too far by preventing workers from talking about things like wages and working conditions, in violation of labor laws.