California's dismal economic outlook has squelched many job opportunities, including those that would allow employees to organize and demand better conditions. With the jobless rate hovering somewhere around 12% since 2009, one of the highest in the country, nearly two million Californians are looking for work, but are unable to find jobs. On the street, most visibly in the Occupy Wall Street movement, you can sense the frustration.
Californians are impatient with the state of the economy – and afraid that the future may not bring better circumstances.
During the worst economic downturn in a generation, it's our job to make sure no opportunity to create new jobs and protect existing jobs is left on the table.
The much-discussed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA is an opportunity to create real jobs that are necessary for injecting life back into our economy. It will also give tens of thousands of T-Mobile workers the option for union representation at AT&T, the only major wireless company that gives employees the freedom to join unions. In fact, the pending merger represents the best opportunity we have seen in recent memory to organize in the growing technology sector.
The merger is now on a legal track after a suit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, but AT&T is working with the government to find a solution. With federal government approval of the merger, AT&T has committed to invest $8 billion in infrastructure development.
This investment will create union jobs and give businesses and workers in a wide range of fields a chance to do better. Whether you're a plumber, a nurse or lawyer, whether you have kids or not, whether you live in a big city, small town or in the mountains: wireless network infrastructure is increasingly essential to do your job and live your life.
This growing reliance means we need a more reliable infrastructure. And that's just what the proposed merger will help create.
At the same time, it will do what we need more than anything right now: it will produce jobs. The AT&T investment alone is projected to generate as many as 14,000 jobs in California. That number alone is pretty impressive – and even more so when you add that it is estimated that each dollar invested in wireless deployment results in as much as $7 to $10 higher Gross Domestic Product.
AT&T announced that it would return to the U.S. 5,000 formerly outsourced jobs; AND, they have committed to zero loss of jobs for existing AT&T and T-Mobile employees as a result of the merger. That's a show of good faith that we in labor value.
That's why this deal has drawn widespread support from labor organizations throughout California, including the Communication Workers of America; The California Labor Federation; California Professional Firefighters; California School Employees Association; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Peace Officers Research Association of California; and the Service Employees International Union of California.
The AT&T merger with T-Mobile is an opportunity for California and its economy, and is simply too beneficial to pass up.