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Exclusive! GLAAD Responds to Queerty’s Post Questioning AT&T Merger

Exclusive Statement to Queerty from GLAAD

This morning, Queerty asked ‘Why is GLAAD Supporting the AT&T and T-Mobile Merger?’ Unfortunately, they forgot to ask us first. For GLAAD, it’s about the results of the merger—an increase in phone functionality and speed. With better phone functionality, more people will be able to engage in social media and online LGBT advocacy.

Groups as diverse as the American Federation of Teachers, LULAC and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have spoken out in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger for a variety of reasons.  Among the diverse views in support of the merger is Pride at Work, an LGBT contingency group of AFL-CIO, an organization affiliated with organized labor. They released a statement today detailing an angle that was not addressed in today’s earlier post about how this will impact LGBT workers.

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.

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 to make life easier for thousands of LGBT employees.

As for Queerty’s commentary that GLAAD supports AT&T’s position on net neutrality, GLAAD does not – and has not- endorsed AT&T’s position on net neutrality. 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.

The notion that GLAAD does not demand action from corporate sponsors is entirely false, and we take these accusations extremely seriously. Like many other watchdog non-profits, we are in part funded by entities we monitor. More on our philosophy around protecting the integrity of our work is listed in our transparency statement on our site.

While today’s earlier post called attention to actions from years ago that Queerty disagreed with, the writer failed to inform readers of the very public instances when we have demanded – and received – action from our corporate sponsors, as recently 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/Comcast’s merger 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 after GLAAD and community members demanded action, CNN’s Kyra Phillips debunked a myth about so-called “ex-gay” therapy put forth by a guest.
  • 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. We’ve worked with 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 we 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. In addition to being a fundraiser for this media work, the GLAAD Media Awards have become the most visible LGBT event in the nation and a platform for high-profile advocates to speak out for equality. This year videos of Russell Simmons and Rev. Al Sharpton speaking out for LGBT equality ran on Essence.com, and we worked with Naya Rivera of Glee to call for more transgender characters on television.

But we need the help of sites like Queerty and its readers to continue this work. When you see anti-LGBT content in the media, contact us at incident@glaad.org. It’s because of incident reports and community participation that we were able to recently take the anti-gay AFA to task when Bryan Fischer stated being gay was “as dangerous as injection drug use” and to work with country music singer Blake Shelton to send a message to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers that anti-gay violence is unacceptable.”

These are the stories and messages that GLAAD is all about and will continue to be about.

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

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  • TJ

    GLAAD just made themselves look even more stupid.

  • Shannon1981

    I donate to and support GLAAD. I’d rather not, at this point though. They are turning us into the queers who cried wolf with their antics,, and…well…what have they done for us lately> NOTHING.

  • Tuck

    I find it very telling that GLAAD is not saying T-Mobile itself is not unionized but that it’s T-Mobile’s call center that isn’t. I don’t claim to know much about the extent of unionization in either AT&T or T-Mobile but GLAAD’s justification for their support rings hollow. A GSM monopoly would make it much more expensive for a lot of people to communicate and we already know AT&T has no problems milking their customers for all they’re worth.

    Why is GLAAD still around anyway?

  • Roger Rabbit

    Wow, NO consideration for how it will affect our wallets or our ability to communicate with loved ones outside of the USA.

    When ATT takes over T-Mobile I will no longer be able to text my partner because AT&T will again begin to rape me with their high prices.

    ATT = $10 for 100 International messages, above that $.25 per message per month

    T-Mobile = $10 for UNLIMITED International texting

    So much for keeping in touch with our LBGT loved ones overseas….


  • jeff4justice

    Many of the countless LGBT groups profit from evil corporations such as the glorifiers of tobacco and alcohol. I’m not sure how they’d be able to pay those big Executive Director six figure salaries without doing so. Worse, I see more and more mainstream entertainment embracing the profiteers of bareback sex while HIV rates increase and the economy collapses eroding the HIV/AIDS prevention and treatments services available to people. It’s all about the money honey.

    Foundations & Corporate Grants
    GLAAD Receives $25000 Grant from AT&T

  • jeff4justice

    @Shannon1981: As I opine in one of my recent vlogs, what do any of the major LGBT groups (including big city LGBT centers) do on the group to develop LGBT communities in many rural and suburb areas. NOTHING.

  • Cam

    In other words, this company paid them, and the other one didn’t.

    The fact that GLAAD had to EXPLAIN their comments means that their origional comments not only were not clear, but they most likely still had nothing to do with Gay Rights.

  • David Gervais

    Ok GLAAD, you’ve done good work elsewhere and in the past. However, you are still wrong on this one. Yes, supporting the unionization drive at Verizon is important, but it should not come at the price of reducing diversity of network services for everybody.

    If Verizon needs to upgrade their network, then the competition from AT&T and other networks will force it. The present owners obviously feel the pressure but don’t want to make the investment. From what I’ve read here and elsewhere, AT&T’s customer service is terrible. Right now their customers can throw their phone in the lake or switch to Verizon. If the merger goes through, those choices will be cut in half. The merged entity will have no incentive to improve service or technology because their customers can be told to take it or jump in the lake.

    Proponents of the merger seem to think that it will result in a company with the best attributes of each. I think they need to give their reasoning for this as it not the usual result of mergers like this. I can certainly make the case that this will result in the worst of each company. The parts that need network upgrades will get them as slowly as possible, after all, the pressure off. After all, where are the customers going to go? And if you think customer service is terrible now, why would they improve it?

    I agree that after the merger, millions of customers will leave, but for anyone with a recent contract or a new phone, the process will be expensive or painfully delayed.

    As for supporting those call centre workers who want to unionize? Right idea, wrong method. When call volume and jobs are distributed, where will they go? The unionized centre with decent wages and benefits in California or Massachusetts or the non-union, low wage and barely legal minimum benefits centre in Tennessee or Missouri? (sorry y’all, but I’m calling it) And that ripping noise? It’s the cable plant being torn out because the jobs went to India. Congress couldn’t stop it once they’d cashed the bri– campaign donation cheque.

    GLADD should not base an endorsement of this deal based on which company is the least worst on LGBT issues. We are not a small special interest group, we are an integral part of a diverse society. Our concern must be for the best for everybody.

  • Mark

    They’re as useless as Salomnese and Chrissie Barron – useless tools

  • TMikel

    Doesn’t that man own a suit that fits?

  • randy

    So I guess next GLAAD will support Exxon/Mobile when they need help in congress over their excessive profits, even though the company refuses to extend its non-discrimination policy to include gays and lesbians.

    I’m sure the reason is because Exxon/Mobile provide the gasoline on our cars, which allows the LBGT community to go to work and earn money, thereby supporting our families.

    Hey, it’s the same logic, isn’t it?

  • Jonathan

    @jeff4justice: “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. We’ve worked with 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 we are to gain support for equality, and it’s this work that is more crucial than ever.”

  • Bomer

    Why does Queerty care about a merger, the legal/financial ramifications of which it knows nothing about?

  • SteveC

    GLAAD really dropped the ball with this one. Their involvement with the AT&T merger makes GLAAD look like a bunch of desperados and idiots.

  • robert in NYC

    Why isn’t GLAAD questioning AT&T’s Wireless corporate branch which donates to right wing anti-gay groups, ditto Verizon Wireless, something that HRC refuses to do, but solely relies on a corporation’s Corporate Equality Index overall? Its not good enough.

  • Chapeau

    GLAAD – this merger is bad for American consumers Gay and Straight alike –! GLAAD should not be supporting this merger and it appears it is a conflict of interest. FAIL.!.

  • ronbo

    Why be concerned? Mergers lead to monopolies. Monopolies lead to increased prices, less choice of services, less competition and less innovative customer-focused solutions.

    It is the free market competition that helps. I have inexpensive “throw-away” phones from Virgin Mobile. When Sprint purchased them out, the phones skyrocket to the hundreds of dollars ($29 to $399), the services were reduced and the cost was “packaged” for my conveinence which tripled my cost per month. Thanks Sprint. I now get my messages days later. I don’t know how they managed to do this – it’s the exact same system as before the merger. I guess it’s just a conveinence factor that they throw in to encourage moving to the more expensive phones.

    This is why mergers into monopolies aren’t a good thing for consumers. But hey, Sprint is now profitable and their share prices are rising.

  • Kelli Busey

    Why does Queerty use this image of to promote its otherwise excellent article warning of the danger to the freedom of the Net resulting from the proposed T-Mobile and ATT Merger?

    Because Queerty like most of gay media believes it can use the transgender community at will, regardless if its damaging as long as the outcome promotes the gay agenda.

    The Queerty article does a great job pointing out the duplicity of the corporate funded Gay rights organization GLAAD, but it does so by publishing a picture a cisgender led company previously apologized for!

    Queerty made no mention of GLAADS refusal to confront transphobia enabling the gay agenda like its own regurgitation of this picture, instead it used the low road actually promoting its argument with the same same transphobic picture!

    Gay men, its NOT embarrassing to be a woman!

  • TomMc

    GLAAD: “But we need the help of sites like Queerty and its readers to continue this work. When you see anti-LGBT content in the media, contact us at incident@glaad.org.”

    Really? You’d like us to do that? Does that apply to anti-TBLG content in US media only?

  • JM

    How much energy has GLAAD put into corporate mergers, and then how much time have they put into, say, getting more local and regional papers to accept LGBT wedding announcements? How much comparative time have they spent holding seminars for reporters covering statehouse and city hall debates on our issues? Where was GLAAD on the media mergers WITHIN OUR OWN FRIGGIN LGBT COMMUNITY, that experts at the time predicted would end in disaster and constriction in the number of real honest-to-goodness LGBT media voices? When’s the last time anyone reading this thread heard of a GLAAD event in their town or region? When’s the last time GLAAD held media trainings for LGBT activists in your area?

    How many more obvious projects does GLAAD have to miss, or do too lightly for anyone to notice, before their Board notices the dip in their relevancy meter?

  • Eric

    It’s OK to screw over large numbers of people so long as it benefits your immediate circles. Good to know.

  • jeff4justice

    @Jonathan: Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the insight. Do you work or volunteer for GLAAD?

    Regarding “on-the-ground trainings with local couples and allies,” sharing stories, and getting couples stories in the minds of Americans, there are many LGBT groups that say they do the same thing. It really doesn’t take numerous million dollar groups to make a YouTube video or talk to a neighbor.

    See my vlog: Too Many Gay/LGBTI Groups Doing Same Thing?

    With all sincere curiosity, I’d love to interview someone from GLAAD or a major LGBT group and find out:
    -why are there so many LGBT groups duplicating the same mission
    -why do so many of the major LGBT groups make large 6 figure salaries and how much to their low-level staff (office, security) and PT help make? How much do they give back to LGBT people during times of crisis (health issues/mortgage payments after a layoff)
    -why should a poor/middle income earner donate to a large LGBT group?
    -why are there so many rural and suburb areas left behind by the major LGBT groups by the big LGBT groups and big city LGBT centers?

    I look forward to a reply.

  • Michi Eyre

    I still have a issues with this. I have heard this line from Morgan Meneses-Sheets (formerly Equality Maryland now with Pride at Work).

    With any kind of merger, there is always a mix of cultures. There is no guarantee that all working conditions and AT&T Wireless (not AT&T corporate) culture will be assimilated in T-Mobile. In fact, they may take various cultures and working conditions from both companies and mix them in. This is what I experienced during both the mergers of USWEST and Qwest as well as the merger of America West Airlines and US Airways.

    If the T-Mobile call centers are currently not represented (Union), then just by virtue of a merger, those centers who are not represented will need to vote the union into their center.

    There is a chance (be it rare), that employees of the legacy AT&T Wireless company could lose rights and benefits as a result of the merger if T-Mobile culture is put in place.

    Regardless of where GLAAD stands on the issue of the merger and regardless of who supports them financially, they have a responsibility to their many underwriters and private donors to respond to negative portrayals of GLBT in the media.

    The Sprint “man in a dress” campaign, which included full page ads in newspapers as well as a complementary internet campaign was a negative portrayal of GLBT. Despite high publicity of the matter (including through QWEERTY, which obviously judging by this response, they are monitoring)and complaints to GLAAD through multiple channels, they took no action.

    Where I come from, this is called a conflict of interest.

    GLAAD is not working in the interest of the GLBT community, they are working in the interest of GLAAD and their underwriters.

    Michi Eyre
    (opinions not necessarily those of REC Networks)

  • libhomo

    @TJ: Well, it’s difficult to look smart when you throw your constituents under the bus for a wealthy, corporate donor.

  • R.A,

    Clearly, their “mission” has grown ridiculously overbroad.

  • DavyJones

    Urm… How much weight does GLAAD really have here? More or less none, I should think. It’s silly for them to write a letter, but I don’t see it as being that be a deal one way or the other, personally. ‘Mountains out of mole hills’ etc.

  • Michi Eyre

    @DavyJones: There were thousands of comments filed in this proceeding. My organization, REC Networks filed a Petition to Deny (the merger) on technical and foreign roaming grounds.

    What GLAAD will bring the to the record that other commenters may not is the potential positive impact to GLBT employees.

    But that still gets to my earlier point and my posts and public statements:


    GLAAD is a media organization, they are not HRC. They should have not commented in this proceeding, but money talks as we have learned.

    By the way, HRC did not file comments in this proceeding. Actually, I did not see any other GLBT organization file comments with the FCC. Many civil rights organizations and labor unions filed comments supporting the merger and media justice and grassroots organizations (including REC) as well as the rest of the telecommunications industry filed comments opposing the merger.

    I think many of us can definitely agree that GLAAD stepped very far out of bounds on this one.

  • Dennis

    Stupid comments from GLAAD, what are they thinking?

  • Chris T.

    Sorry – supporting union v. nonunion…that’s missioncreep. Gay workplace rights are more than admirable, but not the point of GLAAD.

  • Jeffree

    Scandal du jour:GLAAD chief J. Barrios has resigned. The organization’s support for the AT&T, T-Mobile merger. Turns out that GLAAD’s letter about the “benefits” of the mega-empire was written totally by……AT&T!

    Yet another case of BigGayInc. thinking more about corporate interests than what matters to LGBT cellphone users.

    Will we ever learn?

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