The group of Communications Workers of America union members on the southeast corner of 84th Avenue and Grant Street in Thornton got several honks from passing motorists.
The members were holding up signs protesting the loss of American jobs on June 21, the day that the T-Mobile call center at that location closed, displacing more than 440 employees.
“We’re really sad that the T-Mobile call centers are closing,” said Allison Halprin Lovejoy, a CWA organizer. “These were pretty good jobs.”
T-Mobile was the seventh-largest employer in the city, said Michael Masciola, Thornton’s director of economic development. He said the customer-service representatives losing their jobs at the Thornton location have the opportunity to transfer to the company’s 17 remaining call centers.
“There has been very strong interest in the T-Mobile space from several new potential employers that currently are not in the region,” Masciola said.
T-Mobile plans to close seven call centers in the United States, affecting 3,300 workers. At the same time, the company has expanded its offshore hiring in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and the Philippines, said Al Kolger, CWA District 7 organizing coordinator.
“They say there’s no correlation (between the offshore hiring and U.S. centers closing), but we’re calling it how we see it,” he said.
The wireless phone carrier disputed the correlation claim.
“T-Mobile USA did not close these call centers in order to send the work abroad,” said a spokesperson with T-Mobile. “Consolidating call centers from 24 to 17 was an important step for T-Mobile to maintain a competitive cost structure. All T-Mobile employees in these call centers have been provided an opportunity to transfer to another T-Mobile job, and almost 20 percent have chosen to transfer and remain with the company.”
On April 18, CWA filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Labor to fight for more benefits for the displaced T-Mobile workers as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program.
“We’re trying to look out for folks who work out of here,” Kolger said. “I hope everyone finds a job, but in some of these places it’s going to be hard when you dump 200 or so people on unemployment.”
The TAA Program would give the former T-Mobile employees benefits including unemployment compensation while enrolled in a training program up to 130 weeks, provide tuition assistance for job training programs, some health coverage and a job search allowance up to $1,250.
CWA is also advocating the passage of U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, HR 3596. The bill was introduced by Congressman Tim Bishop, D-NY, and Dave McKinley, R-WV. If passed, the legislation would ban federal grants or loans to American companies that move call center jobs overseas and require a list of companies that send call center work offshore to be made public.