AT&T’s Arguments Convince Democrats To Support Merger

Earlier this year, congressional Democrats, led by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), signed off on a letter supporting the AT&T; merger with T-Mobile. The letter listed a litany of pro-merger talking points, including the claim that the merger will expand coverage to 97 percent of the population and generate “thousands of jobs.” But as Tim Karr argues on the Free Press blog, the arguments appear lifted directly from AT&T; lobbyists:

Leaked Letter Challenges Coverage Claim: Earlier this month, a letter accidentally leaked on the FCC website from an AT&T; attorney. The letter makes clear that AT&T; could extend its coverage network to the at a fraction of the cost of acquiring T-Mobile. A key AT&T; position, that the merger is the only way to increase coverage, appears questionable given the letter. Shortly after the FCC posted the letter, it was retracted from the website — but not before bloggers grabbed a copy of it.

Jobs Claim Questioned: Will the AT&T; merger create thousands of new jobs? In a statement to the press last week, a T-Mobile executive conceded that he is actually preparing to get rid of employees if the merger goes through. “We have, as an organization, extended severance benefits to folks if their jobs are affected by any job-related action after the merger, but those decisions are up to AT&T;,” said Eric Schlumpf, a T-Mobile vp for the northwest region. As Dave Saldana points out, AT&T; has rapidly laid off thousands of workers in recent years, particularly at call-centers.

Karr notes that AT&T; has one of the most aggressive lobbying operations in all of Washington. The company has raised eyebrows with its hefty donations to politicians, grants to non-profits, and the sheer number of lobbyists employed by the telecommunications giant. The Communications Workers of America, meanwhile, explains the benefits of a potential merger between the two companies.