AT&T has apparently figured out the key to lawmaker hearts: U.S. jobs.
The telecommunications company has committed to bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States if its proposed merger with T-Mobile USA is approved and finalized. AT&T says the jobs will be in wireless call centers, and will bring back positions that were previously outsourced abroad.
AT&T also says it will commit to maintaining its and T-Mobile's more than 25,000 call-center jobs already in the U.S. The planned move -- cited by the company was one of the biggest job installments since the financial crisis -- is an effort by AT&T to soothe lawmakers struggling with approval of the proposed merger with T-Mobile USA.
For example, one lawmaker, Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, wrote in a letter to two federal regulators reviewing the ATT&T-T-Mobile deal that it is fair to assume that layoffs constitute a substantial portion of the deal's promised cost savings. Other politicians have also expressed concern over the proposed merger.
But AT&T announced Wednesday that company plans to make an aggressive commitment to jobs -- saving those call-center jobs already in place in the U.S. and bringing back 5,000 previously sent abroad.
Does this shore up an issue that people have? Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive, said in an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday. Sure, I hope it does.
Analysts have become uncertain AT&T's merger with T-Mobile will be approved in the past month, amid lawmaker concern and close federal regulator scrutiny. One survey by Stifel Nicolaus & Co. of 32 industry observers found that sentiment that the deal will be cleared has slipped since July, as fewer than half queried said they thought the deal will ultimately be approved.
At a time when many Americans are struggling and our economy faces significant challenges, we're pleased that the T- Mobile merger allows us to bring 5,000 jobs back to the United States and significantly increase our investment here, AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in a statement.
The purchase, if approved, would combine the second- and fourth-largest mobile-phone carriers in the U.S., eclipsing current No. 1 Verizon in size.
AT&T said the commitment to bring back 5,000 call center jobs to the U.S. is the largest effort by a single American company to bring jobs back to the U.S. since the economic crisis began in 2008.
The company noted in a release that many elected officials have endorsed benefits of the proposed merger, as have labor unions and companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Oracle.