Gay Community, Others Call for Support of AT&T, T-Moble Merger

The GLBT community has suddenly become an outspoken proponent lobbying in favor of AT&T's proposed buy-out of T-Mobile. This merger has become an odd rallying point for organizations that normally have little interest in telecom deals.

Until the past couple of weeks, most of the voices speaking up have been the usual suspects such as competitors applying to regulators to restrict the deal. Sprint even went so far as to file legal briefs with the FCC trying to get this merger blocked altogether, something that regulators haven't done in a zillion years. There's also been tech companies offering pro-merger support (more on that in a minute).

But now there's this new wave of politically motivated, consumer-level calls to support it. That's really weird, in a way, because normally consumers are not well served when market behemoths marry. This merger, however, is turning into a rallying point for all kinds of things other than wireless services.

The issue, say these parties, is unions. AT&T has them, T-Mobile does not, and there's been some public battles with the Communications Workers of America implying that T-Mobile has been actively fighting unions. AT&T's union has meant some of the best working conditions and benefits for GLBT workers, according to a written statement from the Pride at Work lobbying organization sent as an e-mailed press release. The organization says AT&T offers benefits such as domestic partner health insurance, family and medical leave for partners, and health insurance that covers transgender surgical procedures.

"AT&T is wall-to-wall union. That means that, unlike other companies who may tout LGBT inclusive policies, AT&T employees have a seat at the bargaining table and their benefits are secured in a legally-binding union contract," claims the Pride at Work organization.

But wait, there's more! Other groups who arguably should have no interest in telecom deals have also been rallying cries of support. These include the NAACP, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Education Association. These groups also applaud AT&T as a pro-union company, even though some of their public statements, such as the NEA's were rather thin.

Hmm. Each of these groups have also been on the receiving end of large donations from AT&T, some of them for years, documents Politco. [UPDATED: 06/27/11: Pride at Work contacted us to clarify that it does not receive funds from AT&T. Politico's money trail includes the NAACP, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the NEA.] Naturally the groups say the money has nothing to do with their public support. Pride at Work even plans to hold a press conference "to correct the record regarding organizational motivations for backing the merger," it says. "This isn't a case of 'follow the money,' it's a case of 'look at the record,’" says, Peggy Shorey, the organization's Executive Director. AT&T also told Politico that these groups are not being asked to voice quid pro quo support. It says it donates to them because it's the moral thing to do.

On the other hand, the cry of support could very well be legit. As part of the deal, AT&T has promised to expand its 4G LTE network to 95 percent of the American population, [PDF], a promise that caused a House Judiciary Committee to grill AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson (pictured above) last month. Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D – Mich.), wanted to know why AT&T needed the merger since the poor economics of expanding to rural areas won't be changed by it and AT&T could very well roll out expanded coverage without T-Mobile's help.

Nevertheless, the promise that the merger will include a massive investment to bring wireless to rural areas is winning over groups that don't get money from AT&T, too. Earlier this month a band of tech companies gave their thumbs up. These included Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, Research in Motion and some venture capitalist firms. 

So everyone's jumping on board. The Sierra Club even gave its approval saying that expansion of the wireless Internet will improve carbon emissions related to travel and encourage smart grid technologies. And of course, there's nothing better than streaming Netflix on your laptop while camping in the woods.

Via:  Pride at Work
Tags:  ATT, LTE, T-Mobile, mergers
TacoJohn74 3 years ago

ATT has taken a page out of the Democrat party playbook by forming a coalition of small special interests ignored by the broader population to do their bidding by offering them something in exchange, in this case it's money. Now if your against the merger, you must be anti-gay, anti-environment, anti-black, etc.

rapid1 3 years ago

ATT has donated regularly to all kinds of organizations since the monopoly break up to gain approval in a wide open way from many sides of society. That money spent was also done so that if something came up they would have this kind of support available.

I personally just joined T-Mobile knowing this was most likely coming for two reasons. The first being I f I choose to stay after this happens, which I pretty much am sure it will now, I will get a market sector comparable device for my smart phone at time of initial purchase (which means I probably will not have to wait 2 years for a new smart phone), and if I do not want to stay any more, then they will have to release me from my contract prior to it's 2 year current binding time period.

I have sent in FCC complaints on it and everything else. I just know the people with the biggest wallet win in the US now period point blank. I also know not only has ATT been paying all the organizations for year, they have also been paying both the senate, the house, state governments directly, and everyone else as well who could have in any way a decision on this accept for of course there customers who they generally screw in most cases.

SO I am not happy about ATT/T-Mobile, but in the end if (or when) it happens I will play it to my advantage!

sethwr 3 years ago

"The GLBT community has suddenly become an outspoken proponent lobbying in favor of AT&T's proposed buy-out of T-Mobile."

REALLY? Who exactly is the GLBT community? I'm gay most of my friends are gay and I read articles, news, and blogs from gay journalists and NONE of them support this... I'd really know to know who exactly you think speaks for the GLBT community because this article isn't telling us anything specifc except that every gay/les person supports telecomm monopolies. And that is COMPLETELY untrue.

LLeCompte 3 years ago

i think verizon's new data plans are a preview of the world after tmobile. Verizon's prices are INSANE for their data, and i cant see paying $30 for 2gb of data. I find it funny that above this article on this news feed is a story about how all customers care about in a smart phone is the price. People care about the price, but little do they know its about to go way up.

ThunderBird 3 years ago

I am with AT&T but I am uneasy about this deal. As I said competition is good for us all and I agree with what was said, why can't AT&T roll out 4G to 95% of Americans without this merger.

You mean T-Mobile's network if that strong?............... I find that hard to believe and I see consolidation going on here and i'm uneasy.

notryan 3 years ago

This article desperately needs an editor's hand. Good premise but the writing doesn't do a good job of getting the information across.

inspector 3 years ago

I think they are merging instead of spilling out the money for expanding because tmobile is already built and out there. most likely less work for AT$T to do it this way.

DavidM 3 years ago

This has a misleading title and opening paragraph. Hopefully this was not an intentional desire to mislead to make the story sound more interesting.

First of all, GLAAD no more represents the "gay community" than the NAACP represents the "black community", and you didn't feel the need to call out the "black community" in the title. Additionally, the President and several board members of GLAAD resigned following the controversy of their letter in support of the merger, showing that the views of their letters of support did not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

I assume this was an oversight, and possibly a result of writing an article and waiting to post this online, but regardless of the reason, I hope you could correct or amend this article with some information following up on the supposed GLAAD support.

animatortom 3 years ago

All I can say is Liberal Agenda! You figure it out!....and GO :P

Super Dave 3 years ago

I'm a Union member (Teamsters), but I'm very much against the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. I hope this whole gay community support thing doesn't cause any of you to view Unions in a negative light. I feel compelled to post this because Union-bashing seems to be the IN thing with so many people out of work and the many budget shortfalls. By the way, that image is a crack-up, Julie!

Joel H 3 years ago

As it turns out, this entire issue was one massive paid endorsement.

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