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Push against Sprint-T-Mobile deal could short circuit 1,500 Rochester area jobs

June 11, 2019 11:47 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- A new push by New York's attorney general against a major merger in the cell phone business could short circuit some 1,500 jobs in the Rochester area.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James and nine other attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. 

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The merger would create the country's third-largest wireless phone company behind Verizon and AT&T. The companies say it would put them in a better position to compete with their still-bigger competitors and would allow the installation of more wireless service, especially state-of-the-art 5G service in areas now underserved or not served.

It would also mean the opening of a new T-Mobile Sprint call center in Henrietta which planned to employ more than 1,300 permanent workers while also bringing in an estimated 200 construction workers to build it.

James called the proposed union between the two companies anti-competitive.

"When it comes to corporate power, bigger isn't always better," she declared while unveiling the lawsuit filed in cooperation with attorneys general from California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"New Yorkers need someone to protect them every day from lopsided deals that deliver astronomic profits to corporate execs," James said, "paid for by consumers, workers, families and communities."

"As far as I was concerned, T-Mobile was doing everything right," sighed Steve Schultz, Henrietta town supervisor, who expressed great disappointment at the news of the lawsuit.

In Henrietta, bulldozers had already begun preparing the site for the new call center, the future of which depended on the merger. 

Schultz says the merger and call center could even save the livelihoods of hundreds of workers at Frontier's call center which is closing and which he says T-Mobile had been considering turning into a temporary call center while the new one is built.  

"I don't understand it," Schultz said. "Too much of an engineer, more engineer than politician I guess."

"I hope it's not politics. I hope it's based on legal substance," said Bob Duffy, president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

Duffy pointed to New York City's loss of a new Amazon headquarters as a tough lesson.

"New York city turned away 25,000 jobs with Amazon HQ 2," he cautioned. "We cannot afford that in Rochester, or Monroe County, or the Finger Lakes region."

Beyond being disappointed, Duffy said he was surprised because the state's public utilities commission had already given the T-Mobile Sprint merger its approval and suspected the court would too. 

"Political issues don't normally win in court," Duffy said.

Credits

Charles Molineaux

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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