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CWA, DOJ weigh in on T-Mobile, MetroPCS merger

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 3:05pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), as well as the Department of Justice (DOJ), weighed in yesterday on the proposed merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS. Interested parties had until Nov. 26 to file opposition to the deal, with responses to those petitions due Dec. 6. The final round of comments is due Dec. 17.

The CWA is asking the FCC to ensure that the deal does not result in a loss of jobs here in the United States, while the DOJ, in concurrence with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI, asked that the FCC defer action on the proposed merger.

In an ex parte filing, the CWA asked the FCC to stipulate conditions on T-Mobile's acquisition of MetroPCS that would guarantee no U.S. employees will lose their jobs as a result of the deal. The CWA also asked that network maintenance continue to be provided by U.S. employees, and that work previously sent offshore by T-Mobile and MetroPCS be returned to the United States.

The CWA believes the transaction presents the FCC with the opportunity to create and save U.S. jobs or to allow thousands of employees to lose their jobs at the expense of service quality.

T-Mobile and MetroPCS have stated their intent to pursue a post-merger business strategy of capitalizing on various "network and non-network synergies," a term the CWA says is a "euphemism that often means job loss or reduction in employment standards."

“The FCC should impose specific conditions protecting T-Mobile USA employment,” said CWA senior director George Kohl. “Otherwise, we’re concerned that T-Mobile and MetroPCS’ identified post-merger ‘efficiencies,’ ‘transaction-specific savings,’ and ‘network and non-network synergies’ will once again translate to U.S. job losses. The FCC should make this a ‘growth and opportunity merger’ for U.S. workers, too.”

In a separate filing, the DOJ, DHS and FBI asked for more time in reviewing the transaction. The agencies are currently reviewing the matter for any national security, law enforcement and public safety issues but have not yet completed that effort.

The FCC began its formal review of T-Mobile USA's merger with MetroPCS at the end of October, when it accepted the companies' application to transfer control of spectrum licenses.

The two operators will have a combined customer base of about 42.5 million subscribers if regulators allow the deal to close during the first half of next year.

The FCC adheres to a self-imposed, 180-day deadline to complete reviews of major transactions. It recently laid out plans to change its current case-by-case approach to merger reviews, but the alternative approach has yet to be formalized so is unlikely to be applied to the T-Mobile deal.

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