Mike Michaud says proposed T-Mobile merger could cost Maine jobs

Posted March 05, 2013, at 7:05 p.m.
US. Rep. Mike Michaud answers questions during the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce debate in Bangor last year.
US. Rep. Mike Michaud answers questions during the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce debate in Bangor last year.

T-Mobile employs more than 500 people at its call center in Oakland, but those Maine jobs could be at risk if a proposed merger of T-Mobile and MetroPCS Communications is approved, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine.

Michaud on Friday sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission that urges members of the commission to consider job retention as they review the proposed merger. The letter was co-signed by 61 other members of Congress.

“We are aware that MetroPCS outsources its entire customer service operation, and a number of its vendor call centers are located in the Philippines and Central America. We are also aware that T-Mobile recently closed seven U.S. call centers, displacing 3,300 employees. We do not want the merger to lead to a reduction of American jobs and an expansion of offshore facilities,” Michaud and his colleagues wrote.

Ed Gilman, Michaud’s communications director, called the congressman’s letter a “pre-emptive” attempt to protect the call center jobs.

“The congressman has made it clear to T-Mobile how important the Oakland center is, and has been told that the company has no plans to close the center. However, too many times Maine has been told one thing about jobs staying in the state only to find out later that workers’ jobs were going to be sent overseas,” Gilman wrote in an email. “This letter is an attempt to get the FCC to include in the transaction agreement a provision about keeping jobs in the U.S. should the merger be approved.”

In a statement sent to the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday, a T-Mobile representative said the company hired 200 employees at its Oakland call center last year and plans to continue adding jobs this year.

“We plan to continue hiring in all of our call centers, as needed, to support our customers,” the statement reads. “While we respect the opinion of members of Congress, we believe the record at the FCC clearly demonstrates our transaction is in the public interest, allowing the new company to grow and providing substantial benefits to both U.S. consumers and employees. Importantly, no one opposed our transaction at the FCC on any grounds, and the commission should move expeditiously to approve our merger.”

According to a news release from his office, Michaud had been pushing for legislation that would prevent companies that offshore call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans.

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