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STATEMENT FROM GLAAD ON THE AT&T/T-MOBILE MERGER

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Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011, New York, NY - This morning reports ran regarding GLAAD’s position on a merger between AT&T and T-Mobile and put forth false accusations that GLAAD is unable to effectively work with media entities that we also receive corporate sponsorships from. We take these characterizations of our work extremely seriously.

It was also wrongly reported that GLAAD endorses AT&T's position on net neutrality. GLAAD does not endorse AT&T’s position. GLAAD believes that equal, fair and universal access to the internet is vital to our community and to our national dialogue.  While GLAAD does not take a position on particular legislation or regulations, we continue to believe in the importance of adhering to these values. 

Groups as diverse as the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, LULAC, the National Council for Negro Women and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have spoken out in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. GLAAD signed on to this letter with the understanding that this merger will increase functionality and speed, thus growing engagement and improving the effectiveness of the online advocacy work that is advancing our movement. GLAAD also stands behind the AFL-CIO and Pride at Work in believing that this merger will increase access to domestic partner benefits, family/medical/bereavement leave, and survivorship benefits for thousands of LGBT employees.

Pride at Work released a statement today:

The proposed AT&T / T-Mobile merger has significant impact for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers.  AT&T is a union business with a good record on LGBT issues.  In contrast, call center workers at T-Mobile have been fighting to form a union, but T-Mobile has been aggressively trying to stop them. 

In a majority of states, workers can be legally fired or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.  Because of the lack of federal employment protections and the lack of relationship recognition, a union is often the only protection for LGBT workers - and the most powerful way to have a voice on the job. As the only union cell phone company, AT&T has a policy of neutrality & majority sign-up recognition – allowing workers to freely make their own decisions about forming a union. 

"The fact is that T-Mobile was put up for sale by its German parent company," said Shane Larson, Legislative Director for the Communications Workers of America and Pride at Work National Executive Board member. 

"Only two companies were interested in buying T-Mobile: pro-union, pro-equality AT&T, and union-busting, jobs-outsourcing Sprint.  For T-Mobile employees, the future is much brighter at a pro-union company like AT&T that enshrines LGBT equality in a legally enforceable union contract," Larson concluded.

For thousands of T-Mobile workers - and the LGBT employees in particular -- this merger will make the difference in whether or not they have the opportunity to negotiate for fair and equal working conditions.  It will make the difference in the ability to negotiate for job security, domestic partner benefits, family, medical and bereavement leave and other workplace issues vital to LGBT and all workers.

The narrative that GLAAD does not demand action from corporate sponsors is entirely false. Many watchdog non-profits are in part funded by entities they monitor. It is a policy that is outlined on our site: www.glaad.org/about/transparency.

There are many examples from the past year of such work, including as recent as yesterday:

  • AT&T and Time Warner Cable pulled advertising after GLAAD and the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) asked advertisers to drop advertisements from Jose Luis Sin Censura, a Spanish-language talk show where the audience frequently chants the word f*ggot and violently assaults LGBT guests. This campaign is continuing.
  • After NBC received a ‘failing’ grade on GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, which measures the quantity and quality of LGBT characters, GLAAD wrote a highly critical letter about NBC's merger with Comcast to the FCC.
  • GLAAD placed a public call to action against CNN for repeatedly featuring anti-gay voices on the channel in the name of ‘balance’: www.glaad.org/tellcnn.  Last year, CNN’s Kyra Phillips debunked a myth about so-called ex-gay therapy put forth by a guest after GLAAD and community members demanded action.
  • Last fall, GLAAD spoke out publically against an episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore that we described as “the most blatantly transphobic scenes aired anywhere on television”: MTV apologized and met with GLAAD to improve coverage of transgender people and edited the episode to remove the offensive material.

All of these media companies are sponsors of GLAAD. 

While these stories may grab headlines, much of GLAAD’s core work is on-the-ground trainings with local couples and allies to speak out in their communities and share their stories with voters in states where our equality is being debated. Couples like Shelly and Kristin of Oregon as well as Carol and Anne from Rhode Island. It’s these images and stories that we need in the minds of Americans if are to gain support for equality, and it’s this work that is more crucial than ever.  It is the GLAAD Media Awards and our corporate sponsors that fund these programs.

To learn more about GLAAD's recent work, please visit our blog at www.glaad.org/blog.