After winning the support of community activists and elected officials, workers at a Metro PCS store in Harlem voted seven to one to join the Communications Workers of America.
Jose Ortiz, an employee of the Metro PCS store on Lexington Avenue, said in a statement: “This has been a David versus Goliath struggle, and I’m beyond thrilled to say that David won. We look forward to bargaining a fair contract that gives MetroPCS workers a real voice at work. When we stick together, we win!”
During the organization process, New York state Sen. Bill Perkins, who represents the district where the store is located, went to the store with activists and also some German workers from T-Mobile and parent company Deutsche Telekom, which assists in collective bargaining and has seats on the company supervisory board. They have taken on the U.S. workers’ cause and are protesting their company’s treatment of T-Mobile U.S. employees. The goal, according to those involved, was to send a message to management that the company should bargain in good faith with the workers.
Management, instead, called the police.
“None of my actions were threatening, illegal or unethical,” said Perkins in a statement. He also said that T-Mobile’s management in Germany “is attempting to portray me as an aggressor against them. I will closely monitor this situation going forward and continue to support MetroPCS workers’ fight for respect and fairness at work.”
Metro PCS merged with T-Mobile earlier this year, and workers consider this vote a significant victory for them and the thousands of employees across the country who want certain issues addressed. As with many attempts by labor to organize anywhere, T-Mobile workers faced push back from U.S. executives and management. Things heated up to the point that CEP John Legere made a trip to the Harlem-based store to warn employees of dire straits if they chose to organize.
But it looks like the tactics didn’t work. On websites like tmobileworkersunited.org, workers gave testimony to why they decided to organize. “My ideal workplace is one where I can come in and do my job without having to worry about office politics or worry about management’s unfair work practices,” said Julian Gonzalez, a T-Mobile worker in New York City, in a statement on the website.
A store with only nine employees engaged in a campaign that has, so far, paid off for them.