Sprint – the nation’s third largest wireless company with $8.3 billion in revenue in 2010 – has adopted a low-road employment strategy based on sending tens of thousands of jobs overseas and opposing workers’ rights at home. Since 2006, Sprint cut 25,000 U.S.-based jobs, closed 30 domestic call centers, and offshored the work to India, the Philippines, and Mexico. The move hurt U.S. workers, their families, and the communities in which they live with reduced income and a shrinking tax base.
Sprint has cut nearly 25,000 U.S. jobs since 2006
According to Sprint’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sprint had “approximately 40,000”employees on Dec. 31, 2010 (the most recent data available), down from 64,600 employees four years earlier on Dec. 31, 2006. This represents a reduction of nearly 25,000 jobs or 38 percent of the Sprint workforce. The 25,000 job cuts occurred after Sprint spun-off its local telephone lines to create Embarq in 2005. [Sprint Nextel Corporation, 10-K forms; Wall Street Journal, 7/18/11]
Sprint’s employment reductions are a result of two factors: significant outsourcing and offshoring of work, and a declining business resulting from poor corporate decisions. Sprint’s disastrous merger with Nextel, its majority ownership in Clearwire, and other misguided strategic shifts have resulted in losses of $38.1 billion and 9.5 million postpaid subscribers since 2007. [Gigaom.com, 7/9/09; Kansas City Star, 5/20/10, Sprint Nextel Corporation, 10-K forms]
Sprint outsources tens of thousands of technical and customer service jobs
Sprint is the only U.S. wireless company to contract out the management of its network
The company eliminated 6,000 in-house jobs when it contracted the work to Ericsson, which sends many of those jobs to India. Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO, told the 2010 annual shareholders meeting that the company’s outsourcing deal, combined with significant layoffs, reduced the company’s costs by one- third. [Gigaom.com, 7/9/09; Kansas City Star, 5/20/10]
Sprint sends American jobs to India, the Philippines, and Mexico
Sprint contracts out as much as 70 percent of its customer service work, much of it to India, the Philippines, and Mexico. Despite its extensive record of sending work overseas, Sprint gave a non-binding commitment to bring back only 600 jobs to this country over the next several years, according to the Jobs4America initiative. [LA Times, 3/5/09; Jobs4America, 8/4/11]
Sprint’s long history of violating workers’ rights
Sprint’s low-road employment strategy extends to its fierce opposition to any attempt by its employees to exercise their right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining. Sprint has made it a top priority to maintain a union-free environment at all costs.
When workers tried to organize, Sprint closed its call center
When 70 percent of the call center employees at La Conexion Familiar, a Sprint long-distance service marketed to Latinos, joined a petition to the NLRB to hold a union election, Sprint closed the call center and fired all 235 workers one week before the election was scheduled to take place. In subsequent proceedings, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge found Sprint guilty of more than 50 violations of the law, saying he had never seen so many labor violations. [NLRB Decision Case 20-CA-26203, 12/27/96; Labor Research Review, Vol. 1: No. 23; California Western Law Review, 1996]
Sprint trained its managers to keep the workplace union-free
Sprint developed a handbook and sent managers through intensive training on methods to maintain a union-free workplace. [Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, 1997]
Sprint retaliated against workers who joined the union
In North Carolina, workers at three call centers persevered in the face of Sprint’s relentless anti-union attacks over an eight-year period (1986-1994) and ultimately were successful in gaining union representation. Once the bargaining unit was organized, however, Sprint dragged out contract negotiations for another year-and-a-half, using a variety of delaying tactics. During this time, Sprint was trying to decertify the unit before a collectively bargained contract was ever signed. [NLRB Schedules Hearing Over Sprint Charges, CWA, 1/1/04; Sprint Workers Squash Decertification, CWA, 12/1/98]
Sprint’s aggressive anti-union behavior creates fear in the workplace.
Sprint’s actions have made it clear that workers who seek to join a union or even to talk about joining a union puts their job and their livelihood at risk.
Sprint: It’s time to create good jobs in America
The key to job creation is investment-driven growth coupled with a human resource strategy that sees U.S. workers as the source of value-creation for the company. Sprint has failed on both counts. It’s time for Sprint to focus on these fundamentals so the company can reverse its abysmal employment record and contribute to a jobs recovery that this nation so desperately needs.