Franken: “Go Pound Sand, Unions”, Part II – The Prize

It’s no secret – American trade unions have been hemorrhaging membership for decades.  Outside government, there really is very little future for unions; in the private sector, they are a cost that generally can not be sustained.

And so when the unions can find a hidden trove of tens of thousands of workers that can be unionized in one fell swoop, it’s like candy at Christmas.

The proposed merger between ATT and TMobile will release just such a stockpile of fresh potential dues-paying recruits.  ATT is unionized; TMobile is not, but being the absorbed entity, its employees – 20,000 of them – would be potential union recruits.

That’s a lot of money.

And the unions knew it.  And so the unions – almost all the big ones – aggressively lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve the merger.  The record is long and ornate; the unions really, really wanted this deal.

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO., sounded off when the news of the proposed merger broke:  “Yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T hasimportant, positive implications for consumers in the U.S. and Germany, forthe U.S. telecom workforce and for our country’s economic future. The acquisition ensures AT&T a strong telecom workforce well-positioned tocompete globally, while offering tens of thousands of T-Mobile USA employees the opportunity to make their jobs good jobs by benefitting from the pro-worker policies of AT&T, one of the only unionized U.S. wireless companies”

The AFL-CIO’s house blog was similarly effusive: ““The announcement over the weekend that AT&T is buying T-Mobile USA could benefit both consumers and employees”

And Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America. also spoke up: “For more than a decade, the United States has continued to drop behind nearly every other developed economy on broadband speed and build out. The Federal Communications Commission sounded the alarm more than a year ago with its broadband report, and President Obama in his State of th eUnion address called for increased efforts to bring the U.S. back to global parity as a key stimulus for economic development. Today’s announcement of the acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T is  avictory for broadband proponents in both the U.S. and Germany. For the U.S.,it means that T-Mobile customers will get quick access to the AT&T network,soon to include LTE or data speeds of at least 10 megabits down stream.More important, as part of the deal, AT&T is committing to build out to nearly every part of the U.S. within six years”    Bear in mind that Cohen and the CWA are not cheerleaders for big telecoms; they’ve fought a long, losing battle with Sprint over their practice of contracting out labor, rather than hiring expensive union employees and taking on their pension burden.

And here in Minnesota – the state Franken represents, and whose unions worked themselves into a fine froth getting Franken elected three years ago?

Last month, Philip Qualy, legislative director of the Minnesota United Transportation Union’s mailed the FCC’s Julius Genachowski to support the merger; you can read the letter here.  Ditto Shar Knutson and Steve Hunter, from the MN AFL-CIO.  And Julie Schnell, President of the SEIU’s Minnesota State Council; while the SEIU is reliably in bed with the Democrats and the DFL, they know money when they see it.

And Edward Reynoso, political director of the Teamsters’ “Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education” (DRIVE) project, who estimated the long-term upside for the unions, and the private economy, at up to 96,000 jobs.  Not to mention Mona Meyer, president of the Minnesota Communications Workers of America, the union that’d be most affected by the merger.

There is no doubt that labor has close ties with Democrats in Congress.  A list of eighty members of the House of Representatives – including Betty McCollum, of Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, signed a letter to the FCC also supporting the merger.

So it’s a big deal for the unions.

And as such, it should be a big deal for Democrat – right?


Last Wednesday, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl recommended that the FCC spike the almost-$40-billion deal:

”I have concluded that this acquisition, if permitted to proceed, would likely cause substantial harm to competition and consumers, would be contrary to antitrust law and not in the public interest, and therefore should be blocked by your agencies,” Kohl said [last] Wednesday.

The unions seemed flabbergasted.  Candice Johnson, communications director for the Communications Workers of America, wrote to tell the FCC that no, they were not amused:

CWA Response to Kohl Letter 7 20

So what does this mean for Al Franken, for  you private sector union people out there,and for the country?

More tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “Franken: “Go Pound Sand, Unions”, Part II – The Prize

  1. His left wing anti-business idealogy trumps his union ass-kissing. Actually I would have to give crazy Al credit. He sticks to his politics vs who gives him the cash.

  2. If merger brings about change in the way handsets are marketed in this country, I’m all for it. The talk about monopoly is absurd. Duopoly? What next – Tripoly?

  3. JPA: I think they’re attempting to introduce the specter of a perceived monopoly (a`la Micro$$$oft in the mid90s) between VZW and AT&T being the two bullies behind the school. Sprint is probably the annoying whiny little sidekick cheering on the two big bullies. Everyone else is inconsequential.

    Don’t Franken and Kohl tossing the unions under the bus demonstrate just how NOT beholden to special interests they are?

    Side ponderance: How many of those 80 congress critters who signed the letter in support of the merger, were Republicans? How many were “conservative” Republicans (along the lines of Bachmann, Paul, etc)?

  4. ack! forgot to use the HTML code

    <Devil’s Advocate>
    Don’t Franken and Kohl tossing the unions under the bus demonstrate just how NOT beholden to special interests they are?
    </Devil’s Advocate>

  5. Kohl is retiring at the end of his term I believe, therefore he can actually do what he feels is right, and I think even Franken realizes if he runs in 2014 he’d lose 60-40 at least. Don’t forget he barely won the endorsement of the DFL over Jack Nelson-Pallmyer who is to the left of Dennis Kucinish.

  6. Being in this industry myself, I can state that a significant reason that the US “lags behind nearly every other country, yada, yada,” is due to union contracts sucking up money that could otherwise be used to develop them. BTW, the CWA is a freaking joke among the major unions. I have witnessed cases where IBEW electricians would jack with low voltage cable pullers that were CWA pukes.

    Bill C; In about 3 months, the acquisition of Global Crossing by Level 3 Communications, both with IP based backbones vs legacy copper, will result in the largest global carrier of IP traffic in the industry, to the tune of 57%. In fact, the other carriers, including AT&T and Verizon rely on these firms to deliver services in LATAM, India and the PAC Rim.

  7. so does this mean that if this goes through my Verizon service will go from bad to intolerable?

  8. Mitch, we need you on the national stage. I am buying you a virtual round of your favorite adult beverage and saying thanks for your passion and commitment to the truth.

    Exit question: why don’t you write more stuff for Hot Air? Have you thought of submitting articles to National Review?

  9. Nick,

    I submit the odd article to the GreenRoom, and Ed sometimes pushes them up to Hot Air. That one’s out of my control. As to the NR – well, I’m flattered, thanks!

  10. Ben;

    Unfortunately, no. Since Verizon has two separate operating companies, their wireless side and their land line Local Echange Carrier side, the bill won’t affect the wireless side. Along with AT&T and Qwest/CenturyLink, they are amajor player in the corporate voice, data and collaboration services market. That said, AT&T now has the perception in the corporate world that they are more now concerned with their wireless side than their legacy land line side.

    Quite frankly, I have been with Verizon wireless (and predecessors) for 20 years, while various employers have provided cell phones with Sprint and currently, AT&T. I can’t put into words how bad both of those carriers are. So far, my Verizon service has always come through, even when the others don’t, even when I have been in the middle of Lake Kabetogama fishing.

  11. Industry insider information is always interesting, BH429, Thanks for that.

    I also echo BH429: I’ve had great service from Verizon thru the last 4 phones I’ve had. In all that time I’ve only had one unexpected dropped call where I wasn’t somewhere that was known to have bad coverage. I love the fact that you can pay online and within 3 seconds you receive a text saying you’ve paid and they immediately quit bugging you if you were behind. I have not run into “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” with that company like I have with others (mortgage company, the govt, etc)

  12. bosshoss429 said:

    “a significant reason that the US “lags behind nearly every other country, yada, yada,” is due to union contracts sucking up money that could otherwise be used to develop them”

    That stands to reason. When have you ever heard someone say “we used union labor to save money” (unless said union has a reputation for high expense making thuggery)?

  13. “So far, my Verizon service has always come through, even when the others don’t, even when I have been in the middle of Lake Kabetogama fishing.

    I tell you boss if I was on Kabetogama enjoying the fishin and the damn phone rang I’d likely as not throw the SOB in the water. Sometimes having no bars is a good thing. (wink)

  14. Sometimes having no bars is a good thing.

    You are never far from a bar in Wisconsin.

    For all the carping about AT&T service, I have been with them continuously for about 15 years now (I stayed on blue network when they sold out to Cingular). They always unlocked my phones (I travel internationally) and I cannot remember a single dropped call, be it in US, Outer Mongolia, Brazil or Russia. I also seem to have better reception in areas where other phones and services fail. Go figure…

  15. More on topic. You always have to follow the money. Union bosses don’t give a rat’s ass about their constituency, only how much they can milk it for. ie, More constituents, more milk. Damn the principles.

  16. Scott;

    LOL! Totally agree. Let me give the Reader’s Digest version as to how I found out that it actually worked out there.

    Storm coming up, with lightning – boat motor wouldn’t start no matter what we did – trolling motor worked, but they don’t exactly move ya’ fast. I was the only one with a cell phone on me, so we called the lodge for help and their guy got there just as the sky opened up and the waves started growing. We were all bailing like crazy on the tow into the dock, ‘cuz the pump couldn’t keep up.

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