|....Since July 2005, the Communications Workers of America has unionized 16,500 former AT&T Wireless workers at Cingular Wireless retail stores and call centers nationwide — a move that runs counter to the longstanding trend in the telecommunications industry and American workplaces in general. And many of those Cingular shops are in the South, where unionizing efforts have been difficult historically. |
Cingular's wireless competitors have fought, at times fiercely, against unionization, arguing that an organized labor force would hobble their ability to move workers, cut costs and make changes necessary to compete in a high-tech industry. They often assert that unions ultimately hurt the workers they claim to protect.
But the growth of Cingular into the nation's largest wireless carrier — with a nearly fully unionized labor force — has challenged those assumptions and given a new spark to organized labor, said Harry C. Katz, dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
"The fact Cingular does well even in the face of unionization helps rebut the argument that unions aren't viable in a technologically sophisticated and dynamic industry," Mr. Katz said.
That said, he noted that the union's success remained particular to Cingular. "It has not contributed to a noticeable rebirth more broadly," Mr. Katz said. "Whether there will be a larger resurgence — that remains to be seen."
From the union's perspective, the success at Cingular shows what it can accomplish when it tries to organize at a company that is not averse to organized labor....
So all you faithful, tree-hugging progressives out there, let's be sure to sign up with Cingular when your cell phone contract comes up for renewal. Be proactive!