Organized labor officially opposed the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile on Monday, saying it would cost more than 28,000 jobs, including 4,500 at the two headquarters.
The Communications Workers of America made jobs its chief, but not only, complaint filed in proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission. Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation’s No. 4 and No. 3 wireless carriers, are seeking FCC approval to combine.
The union’s 128-page submission to the FCC also cites damage to competition in the wireless market and national security concerns. It claims the two companies “have not come close, by any stretch of the imagination, to providing the kind of evidence that is sufficiently rigorous and well documented” that the merger would benefit the public.
Sprint and T-Mobile have promised more jobs, lower prices and a superior advanced 5G wireless network in pitching their proposed $26 billion merger. Each carrier plans to build its own 5G service, but they say a combined effort after the merger would produce a 5G service unrivaled worldwide.
Sprint’s most recent report showed it employed 30,000 at the end of March. T-Mobile said it employed 51,000 at the end of December.
A T-Mobile spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday. Sprint officials could not be reached immediately.
Heavy job losses had been a focal point of the merger even before the two companies agreed to terms in early May.
One investment analyst estimated last October that combining Sprint and T-Mobile could eliminate more jobs than Sprint had at the time.
The union’s filing with the FCC echoes that analyst’s report but said it relies on its own “comprehensive analysis based on detailed location data for all the retail locations involved in the proposed transaction.”
Specifically, 24,000 jobs would be gone as overlapping retail stores close for not only the Sprint and T-Mobile brands but also their pre-paid brands Boost and MetroPCS, the filing said.
An additional 4,500 headquarters jobs would disappear, it claimed, as a merged company sought to eliminate duplication at the Overland Park headquarters of Sprint and the Bellevue, Wash., headquarters of T-Mobile. Sprint has about 6,000 employees at its headquarters campus, though it had announced plans to eliminate 500 jobs there.
The companies have said a merged operation would create jobs from the first day. During interviews announcing the merger, T-Mobile CEO John Legere called the transaction “a major jobs creator.”
They also said Sprint’s Overland Park campus would serve as a second headquarters after a merger.
Sprint CEO Michel Combes addressed the jobs question at a June rally for Sprint employees at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. He said that such mergers create “tons of opportunity” and that grabbing those opportunities was in employees’ hands.
The union’s opposition filing follows up similar opposition last year to the idea of a merger when the companies had not yet agreed to terms.
The companies have said they expect to win FCC approval and merge in the first half of next year.