The merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA would create more than 100,000 jobs in the United States, a major telecommunications union said today, again putting its weight behind the deal.
The Communications Workers of America said a new analysis has found that the deal, which would combine the second- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers, would create an additional 96,000 jobs, alongside the 5,000 outsourced jobs AT&T has pledged to bring back.
The CWA also lashed out at opponents of the deal, noting that their concerns over lost jobs stemmed from "sloppy research and the inability to distinguish between the change in the number of wireline and wireless jobs." The union was specifically targeting a study that was commissioned by Sprint Nextel, and it said the company's arguments are "misguided and misleading."
Sprint, meanwhile, fired back, calling the CWA's claims inaccurate and irrelevant.
"CWA's filing is meant to distract attention away from the actual issue at hand--the Department of Justice has filed suit to block AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile because it believes the takeover of T-Mobile, which CWA has embraced, will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for mobile wireless services," a company spokesman said.
Other critics said the CWA's claim isn't new and that it fails to consider the loss to T-Mobile's operations.
"CWA is simply trying to reheat stale leftovers," said S. Derek Turner, a director at media reform group Free Press.
The CWA, a group that AT&T had locked up before announcing the merger earlier this year, had been an early proponent of the deal. The deal, however, is still in jeopardy, with the U.S. Justice Department, Sprint, and regional carrier C Spire suing to block it. AT&T last week disclosed in a filing that it had pushed back its target to close the deal to the end of the first half of next year, rather than the first quarter.
The CWA also said the merger would save or create more jobs than a deal between Sprint and T-Mobile. The union noted that Sprint has slashed its workforce and outsourced many of its operations, including the management of its network to Ericsson.
In September, Sprint released a study by David Neumark, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, that debunks AT&T's claims that the deal would create jobs. Instead, the study said AT&T would cut thousands of jobs in order to achieve its target of reducing expenses by $10 billion.
The Federal Communications Commission has also expressed concern about the impact that the deal would have on jobs. AT&T has maintained that the deal would have a beneficial effect.
It's unclear how much of an impact the CWA's comments will have on the proceedings, particularly the Justice Department lawsuit, which is seen as the critical hurdle for AT&T to pass to get the deal approved. The telecommunications giant has said it is working on a legal defense and a possible out-of-court settlement.
Updated at 10:26 a.m. PT: to include a response from Sprint and Free Press.