AT&T/T-Mobile merger has Perry’s support, but could cost South Texas call center jobs
As Gov. Rick Perry makes tours the country promoting Texas as the country’s hub for job growth, minority communities in the state with already high unemployment rates are slated to lose even more jobs if a major telecomm merger championed by Perry goes through, reports The Huffington Post.
The $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, is expected to displace up to 20,000 T-Mobile employees and cut $10 billion in investments. Those hardest hit will be workers at T-Mobile call centers, three of which are located in Texas cities. As recently as January, the centers sought to hire 500 bilingual employees in the border cities of Brownsville and Mission.
The Brownsville call center opened in 2007, projected to add 750 new jobs over five years and inject $15 million in annual salary into the Rio Grande Valley economy.
The two cities already hold higher than average unemployment rates at 13 percent, surpassing Texas’ 8.2 percent rate. Author Dave Saldana, who serves as communications director for media reform group Free Press points out that in Mission almost half of the city’s residents lack health insurance. Frisco, the third city, is a wealthy Dallas suburb with 8.7 percent unemployment.
Even though the merger would likely leave hundreds of Latino workers out of a job, in contrast to the Perry campaign’s key talking point, the governor continues to champion the deal.
“We have all benefited from the highly competitive wireless marketplace that flourished even in our most challenging economic times, thanks in large part to a light regulatory touch,” writes Perry in a letter to the FCC. “The future rests in wireless broadband, and the federal government’s swift approval of the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would send a strong signal to employers, consumers and states that our federal government is serious about meeting the communication and technology needs of Texans and all Americans.”
Perry’s enthusiasm echoes other Texas lawmakers who have received thousands of dollars from the telecomm giant, as the Texas Independent previously reported and the GOP presidential candidate’s past campaigns have been buoyed by AT&T cash; since 2002, the Dallas-based corporation gave Perry $692,195 in donations. And those generous funds will likely flow as Perry moves through the trail.
Some proponents of the mega-merger say it will deliver service to rural areas more quickly and actually create jobs — but that claim is refuted by industry experts and lawmakers like Sen. Al Franken, who say the acquisition will cause job losses and higher consumer prices. Faster service would happen with or without the merger, and rural communities actually stand to incur the most harm if the merger takes place, Free Press argues.
If approved, Franken writes, the merger would cause “substantial” harm to the public interest and create an “effective duopoly,” further consolidating the concentrated media market.