ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Experts may differ over the exact number, but if AT&T is allowed to swallow up T-Mobile and become the nation's largest cell-phone service provider, some 20,000 jobs are likely to be eliminated. Most of those would be held by T-Mobile workers.
In New Mexico, about 1,700 people work at two T-Mobile call centers, and hundreds more are employed on the retail side.
As the nation struggles to avoid a double-dip recession, says Chance Williams, government and external-affairs manager of the media watchdog group FreePress.org, approving the takeover doesn't make sense.
"I think it's 100 percent clear that this merger is a job-killer. This is a massive horizontal merger, and that's the kind that always costs jobs."
Amalia Deloney, grassroots policy director for the Center for Media Justice, says T-Mobile's traditionally lower-cost plans have made it a popular choice among low-income families and communities of color. She says merger-related job losses will hit hard there, too.
"And we're looking at the number of people who are employed currently at T-Mobile, 48 percent of which we know of their employees are employees of color; and then the fact that, if the merger went through, as many as 20,000 people would potentially receive pink slips."
AT&T says the merger will expand broadband service and actually create jobs. A poll just released shows the percentage of telecommunications experts who expect the government to approve the merger has dropped from 54 percent last month to 49 percent.
Deloney credits public opposition for the drop in perceived support for the takeover.
"I think the tide is starting to turn, and I think it's primarily because elected officials, appointed officials, other public officials, are finally understanding that the public is absolutely against this."
The Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission are considering the merger, which has support from Microsoft, the AFL-CIO and the Communications Workers of America.
Deb Courson Smith reporting, email@example.com