House Dem calls for FCC field hearings, says AT&T merger won't create jobs

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) on Wednesday said AT&T and T-Mobile USA have failed to satisfy his concerns about job losses from their proposed merger. 

Inslee, a candidate for governor in Washington, expressed worries in a letter last month that the merger would destroy jobs, particularly in his home district. Inslee is running for governor, and T-Mobiles headquarters is just outside his district.

Now Inslee wants the Federal Communications Commission to hold field hearings on the merger.


Inslee said Wednesday that both firms — and AT&T in particular — failed to adequately respond to his questions about jobs. His statement appears to place him with the small but growing number of Democrats opposing the deal, which would leave AT&T Wireless and Verizon with more than 80 percent of the wireless market.

“The answers I received did little to convince me that the merger of these two companies will benefit local jobs or provide customers with better service at affordable prices,” Inslee said, arguing that the federal government should view any further wireless industry consolidation “with considerable skepticism.”

“American consumers face diminishing choice and higher bills at a time of increasing profitability for the dominant wireless companies in today’s marketplace,” he said. 

AT&T said it believes its merger with T-Mobile will create jobs and help the economy.

“We believe that the transaction will be positive for job creation. Jobs are created when businesses grow and invest,” said AT&T in their response to Inslee's letter.

“AT&T also is sensitive to the fact that there will be overlapping functions between the two companies; however, as with prior mergers, we expect any necessary force adjustments to be achieved mostly through normal attrition. And in all events, we believe there will be a net increase in jobs as a result of this transaction.”

In his letter last month, Inslee asked for a detailed explanation of AT&Ts claim that the merger will result in $10 billion in savings through cuts to support and administrative services, including any estimated job losses.

Inslee also wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday, asking him to hold a field hearing on the merger in Seattle due to the transaction’s importance to the local economy.

Several advocacy groups have also written to the FCC requesting field hearings on the merger similar to the one that took place during the NBC Universal-Comcast review. The FCC had indicated that that hearing was an exception and that it did not plan to hold field hearings on the AT&T/T-Mobile deal.

This post was updated at 5:15 p.m.