Inslee worried AT&T deal could cost jobs

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) sent a letter to AT&T and T-Mobile on Thursday expressing his concern that their proposed merger could destroy jobs, especially in his Washington district.

Inslee, who is running for governor, wrote that the Puget Sound region has already suffered from waves of job cuts as a result of telecommunication mergers. 

In 2004, Cingular's acquisition of AT&T Wireless led to the closure of the AT&T Wireless headquarters in Redmond, Wash. In 2005, Alltel (now Verizon Wireless) acquired Western Wireless, based in Bellevue, Wash.

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"Despite assurances that 'much less' than 10 percent of Western Wireless employees would be laid off, two years later only 115 of the 930 Washington employees remained," Inslee wrote.    

The headquarters of T-Mobile is just outside of Inslee’s district.

AT&T claimed in a statement to investors that the merger would result in $10 billion in savings through cuts to support and administrative services. In his letter to the telecommunication companies, Inslee requested a detailed explanation of that estimate including the estimated job loss.

Inslee, who is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote that while he is “committed to ensuring this transaction receives a fair review” he is concerned “about the effects this merger will have on local employment and the presence the wireless industry has in the region.”

He wrote, “With Washington’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate, we can ill afford to lose the more than 3,300 jobs T-Mobile maintains in Washington.” 

An AT&T spokesman said, “We have received the letter and we look forward to responding to Congressman Inslee and discussing the tremendous benefits this merger will bring to consumers across the United States.”

The merger between the telecommunication giants is currently under review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

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