Union says it is making progress in unionizing Wichita T-Mobile call center

Angela Melvin is leading a unionization drive at the T-Mobile call center on North Woodlawn. (May 3, 2016)
Angela Melvin is leading a unionization drive at the T-Mobile call center on North Woodlawn. (May 3, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Angela Melvin is leading an effort by the Communications Workers of America to unionize the T-Mobile call center.

A customer sales representative for T-Mobile, Melvin has worked at the center near 25th Street and Woodlawn for about two years.

At this point, the long effort to organize is gaining momentum, but isn’t close to victory, she said.

The union estimates the call center has about 500 hourly customer service representatives, said Joshua Coleman, the union’s special agent and a former worker at the call center.

Twenty-three people have come out publicly for the union, signing cards in support of unionization and acting as the union’s organizing committee. They are trying to recruit their co-workers, but, so far, they don’t have enough votes and no election is scheduled.

“We are gaining members every day,” Melvin said.

“We don’t have a schedule,” Coleman said. “It all depends on how effectively the committee, and we, can reach out to the employees.”

Efforts to reach the company’s media relations office by email were unsuccessful when the email bounced back with the message that the mailbox was full.

Coleman said they won’t talk specific numbers of people pledging support, but they need to get to a place where they can be confident of getting more than 50 percent of the votes needed to be certified as representing the workforce. Such an election would be by secret ballot.

Melvin acknowledged that the company is generally a good place to work, but said there are some key issues:

▪ They want “fair” wages, she said. She said she makes $12.43 per hour and that some new hires are coming in above that. She would like seniority to count for more in deciding pay rates.

She is also interested in seeing the starting wage move to $15 per hour.

▪ The metrics on which employees bonuses are based change frequently.

“When they are changing the metric around, that’s a frustrating process,” she said.

▪ The better performing sales reps get the preferred shifts. She said the union is interested in having seniority be considered in shift assignments.

Dan Voorhis: 316-268-6577, @danvoorhis