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Posts Tagged ‘Merger’
February 8th, 2019 at 10:10 am
New York Agrees That a T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Serve the Public Interest
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Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday, the New York State Public Service Commission approved the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger as “in the public interest” after considering all of the relevant facts and competing arguments.

As CFIF and others have emphasized since the proposed merger’s announcement, the transaction would provide an enormous net benefit to the American economy and consumers, and there’s simply no reason for needless delay or misplaced opposition from federal, state or local governments.  In terms of faster 5G transition in the U.S., more jobs, more private telecommunications investment, greater market competition, broader nationwide coverage for consumers, capacity improvements, performance improvements and lower prices (as we highlighted just yesterday), this merger is a no-brainer.

Importantly, among other benefits to the public that we’ve emphasized, the New York Commission yesterday noted how the merger would result in a new entity whose whole would be greater than the sum of its current parts:

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[T]he Petitioners have addressed concerns related to the broader issues raised by others in this case…  In response to claims that T-Mobile and Sprint would have built 5G networks in any case, the Petitioners assert that the new T-Mobile will be able to build a larger, more robust network in a more timely fashion, than either of the two companies on their own.”

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We at CFIF applaud the Commission’s common-sense finding, and hope that other authorities will demonstrate similar rationality.  In particular, next week the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees will hold a joint hearing on the proposed merger.  As Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – New Jersey), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D – New York), Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D – Pennsylvania) and Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D – Rhode Island) explicitly stated in their joint announcement, “We look forward to examining this merger from the perspective of what is in the best interest of consumers and hardworking people.”

Well, New York authorities examined that same question yesterday, and the answer was obvious in the affirmative.

 

February 7th, 2019 at 7:20 am
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Already Bearing Fruit
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For months since its announcement, CFIF has enthusiastically supported the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger, based upon the myriad benefits that it offers the American economy and consumers.

Among those benefits, lower consumer prices stand among the most prominent.  Well, that prospective benefit is already coming to fruition.

Specifically, in a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere committed to maintaining “the same or better rate plans” for the next three years as the merger occurs:

Critics of our merger … have principally argued that we are going to raise rates right after the merger closes.  I want to reiterate, unequivocally, that New T-Mobile rates are NOT going to go up.  Rather, our merger will ensure that American consumers will pay less and get more…                   

If we broke faith by raising rates and cutting back benefits, we would lose our loyal customers and destroy the future of our brand.  I want to assure you that we would never do this.  My management team and I can make this personal commitment because we believe in delivering on our promises, and we k now if we do not, we will lose credibility and the trust of our customers.  Our business plan and our future success are centered around building a world class 5G network for everyone and delivering more to consumers for less.                     

To remove any remaining doubt or concerns about New T-Mobile’s prices while we are combining our networks over the next three years, T-Mobile today is submitting to the Commission a commitment that I stand behind – a commitment that New T-Mobile will make available the same or better rate plans for our services as those offered today by T-Mobile or Sprint.  We believe this merger makes consumers better off, and we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is.  Period.

Of course, that’s not the only benefit to the American economy and consumer marketplace, as we’ve detailed.

Among other important improvements, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger would add another major competitor to the existing marketplace, and combine their current differing but complimentary assets.  The result will be more jobs, faster wireless, quicker transition to 5G technology in America, more choices for consumers, greater private telecommunications investment and all of the consequent innovation that market competition entails.

Nevertheless, the fact that the benefits to American consumers in terms of pricing are already arriving confirms the soundness of this proposed merger.

It’s certainly something for the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees must acknowledge at their joint hearing next week.  The alternative to a T-Mobile/Sprint merger is less investment, fewer jobs, less market competition, more harmful government intervention into the economy, slower 5G deployment and one fewer competitive market participant.

That’s simply an unacceptable and indefensible alternative.

February 1st, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Proposed T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Would Be a Win for American Consumers
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On February 13, the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees will hold an important joint hearing on the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger that promises greater innovation, more jobs, more private telecommunications investment, increased market competition, faster wireless and greater choice for consumers as America proceeds toward our much-anticipated 5G technological rollout.

Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – New Jersey), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D – New York), Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D – Pennsylvania) and Antitrust, Commercial & Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D – Rhode Island) state in their joint announcement that, “We look forward to examining this merger from the perspective of what is in the best interest of consumers and hardworking people.”

Well, the answer to that question is clear.

Compared to the current telecommunications marketplace, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will mean an enhanced array of consumer services.  Sprint and T-Mobile currently possess differing but symbiotic assets, rather than overlapping ones that might otherwise simply mean a bigger company instead of two smaller (and less competitive) ones.  As a result, the new entity would create a new network with broader nationwide coverage, capacity improvements and improved wireless performance for customers compared to what American consumers currently enjoy.  As has been exhaustively demonstrated by CFIF and others, the proposed merger also promises lower costs for consumers, new jobs and necessary network upgrades.

In particular, the proposed merger offers significant potential benefits through deployment of the first 5G wireless network in the U.S., as CFIF has noted:

With an anticipated $40 billion investment in 5G, consumers will enjoy data delivery at a lower cost, and the incentive for competitors to similarly lower prices to consumers.  That will also prompt market competition to expand spectrum in rural areas in addition to urban centers, as well as capacity improvements for consumers.           

That’s how market competition works.  A T-Mobile/Sprint merger and its 5G deployment would also mean billions in new private infrastructure investment and countless new jobs.  In contrast, the absence of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger would mean slower deployment of a 5G nationwide network, and the absence of a market competitor of greater scale.  Ultimately that means consumers would lose.

There is simply no point in needless delay or contentiousness when the House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees convene on February 13.  The proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger offers only benefits to American consumers compared to the existing status quo.  The Committees must recognize that reality, lest we pay an unnecessary price in terms of slower 5G, fewer consumer choices, fewer jobs, less investment and less market competition.

 

June 13th, 2018 at 3:59 pm
Let the AT&T/Time Warner Ruling Be a Lesson Against Needless Federal Market Interference
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Hopefully this will serve as a deterrent lesson to the U.S. Department of Justice, and the federal government more generally.

Yesterday, Federal Judge Richard Leon delivered his decision rejecting the Justice Department’s misguided lawsuit to prevent AT&T and Time Warner from merging.  The government had no business even bringing the suit, as the merger poses no threat of consumer harm.  To the contrary, as noted in today’s Wall Street Journal by Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang, it promises more choices and greater market competition for American consumers.  Because the merger was “vertical” in nature, rather than a “horizontal” merger of direct market competitors, federal bureaucrats would only inflict harm by delaying or denying its fruition:

[T]he unique characteristics of digital markets have allowed a small number of internet giants – among them Amazon, Google, Netflix and Facebook – to dominate their industries and forestall entry by competitors.  These companies have put serious money into customer connections, data analytics and back-end systems, and these investments scale very well.  Netflix has penetrated more than half of U.S households.  Google and Facebook control almost three-quarters of online advertising.  Amazon does nearly half of all online retail sales.  These are astonishing numbers.

Now that these tech giants have established their downstream power in the distribution business, they are beginning to amass upstream power by getting into the content-creation business…  Given the dominance of Silicon Valley’s internet giants, it makes no sense to prevent AT&T and Time Warner from merging.  These companies aren’t trying to join forces because they want to take control of a dying industry;  they want to be allowed to compete in a new one.”

The American economy has accelerated since President Trump’s election as a consequence of his deregulatory and tax-cutting agenda, and that same logic should apply to the realm of market mergers between mutually bargaining parties.

As one example, Comcast recently announced a bid for certain assets of 21st Century Fox.  In the same way as described above regarding the AT&T/Time Warner merger, Comcast’s acquisition would greatly benefit consumers.  The film and television businesses have never been more competitive, dynamic or creatively rich, and consumers possess more entertainment choices than ever before.  Free markets work, and federal bureaucrats have zero business interfering in this matter.

As Judge Leon noted in his decision, federal government decisions to interfere come at great cost:

The government has had this merger on hold now since October of 2016 when it launched its investigation.  In that 18-plus month period, the companies have twice extended the break-up date to accommodate the government’s litigation of this case.  During that same period, the video programming and distribution industry has continued to evolve at a breakneck pace.  The cost to the defendants and the government to investigate, litigate and try this case has undoubtedly been staggering – easily in the tens of millions of dollars.”

That same logic applies to Comcast’s proposed acquisition.  Let’s not be forced to repeat yesterday’s harsh lesson to the Justice Department, after needless waste of time and taxpayer resources in meritless litigation that only serves to harm American consumers and competitive marketplaces.

June 13th, 2018 at 3:01 pm
In Good News for Consumers, Federal Judge Rejects DOJ Attempt to Block AT&T/Time Warner Merger
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In a decision that came as no surprise but nevertheless merits celebration, a federal judge yesterday rejected the Justice Department’s needless lawsuit attempting to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

Whenever federal bureaucracies seek to disrupt functioning markets by prohibiting mutual agreements between two willing parties, they carry a heavy burden of proof to establish impending consumer harm.  In this case, the opposite was true – the federal government’s needless interference, not the proposed acquisition, would result in consumer harm.  Accordingly, Judge Richard Leon ruled that Justice’s allegations “do not come close to answering the question before the Court.”

So why is yesterday’s ruling important going forward?  Hopefully, it provides federal bureaucrats an abject lesson against future destructive campaigns of a similar sort.

As one immediate example, consider the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint announced recently.  Although the T-Mobile/Sprint proposal involves characteristics unique to it, it offers the consumer market similar sorts of benefits.

Namely, T-Mobile/Sprint prospectively offers an enhanced array of consumer services in comparison to what is available today.  For example, the two current companies’ differing but complementary assets would create a new network with enhanced capacity, wider coverage and more effective wireless performance for customers than currently exists.  It also promises network upgrades, lower prices and job creation.  In particular, the proposed merger offers significant potential benefits through deployment of the first 5G wireless network in the U.S.

Through that $40 billion investment in 5G, consumers will enjoy data delivery at a lower cost, and the incentive for competitors to similarly lower prices to consumers.  That will also prompt market competition to expand spectrum in rural areas in addition to urban centers, as well as capacity improvements for consumers.

That’s how market competition works.  A T-Mobile/Sprint merger and its 5G deployment would also mean billions in new private infrastructure investment and countless new jobs.  In contrast, the absence of a T-Mobile/Sprint merger would mean slower deployment of a 5G nationwide network, and the absence of a market competitor of greater scale.  Ultimately, that means consumers would lose.

The Trump Administration has demonstrated to date how deregulation can turbocharge the economy and benefit American consumers.  That logic applies with added potency to the ever-evolving telecommunications market, and the Justice Department should learn its lesson and refrain from future needless interference that will only cost consumers and trigger embarrassing legal defeats.

May 17th, 2018 at 9:32 am
CFIF Applauds Senator Mike Lee’s Introduction of the SMARTER Act of 2018
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ALEXANDRIA, VA – This week, Senator Mike Lee (R – Utah) introduced the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act in the United States Senate.  Among other advancements, the SMARTER Act will address concerns that parties to a proposed merger or acquisition endure different injunction standards in court challenges, as well as different processes, depending upon which federal antitrust agency happens to be reviewing the transaction.

In response, Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs Timothy Lee issued the following statement:

The Center for Individual Freedom applauds Senator Mike Lee on the introduction of the SMARTER Act of 2018.  Among other improvements, this bill includes key reforms to the flawed Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) merger review process, including:  1) establishing a reasonable time limit for agency review to ensure fairer, more transparent and timely decisions, and 2) ending the ability to effectively kill transactions by designating them for hearing before Administrative Law Judges, instead requiring such cases to be litigated in federal court just as the Justice Department must when contesting proposed transactions.

CFIF urges quick Senate passage of the commonsense legislation.
February 8th, 2016 at 12:37 pm
Dish Network Becoming a Crony Capitalist Serial Offender
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We’re not in the business of demonizing particular private enterprises.  But it is our mission to advance the principles of free markets.  And few things corrupt contemporary markets more than crony capitalism, the exploitation of government power for private purposes.  From eminent domain abuse to kneecapping competing businesses, individuals and groups who favor free markets shouldn’t remain silent when businesses engage in it.

And in the case of Dish Network, we seem to have a serial offender.

In recent weeks, we’ve rightfully criticized Dish’s shenanigans as it relates to the desperately-needed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auction.

Unfortunately, that unseemly behavior extends to the realm of marketplace mergers between willing parties.  We believe that absent some demonstrable unfair harm or illegality, private businesses should be free to merge, split or otherwise transact as they see fit without governmental meddling.  Regulators and disagreeable parties should have to carry a burden of proof in establishing such illegality or unfair harm before telling mutually-bargaining parties what they and cannot do.

Dish Network, however, appears to believe that it should be free to engage in merger activity when it sees fit, but others should not enjoy the same freedom when that doesn’t serve Dish’s perceived interest.

Perhaps the most prominent immediate example is Dish’s opposition to the proposed merger between Time-Warner Cable and Charter Communications, where it has gone so far as to petition the FCC to block the agreement.  That maneuver parallels its previous opposition to the Time-Warner/Comcast merger, which CFIF supported in the face of needless federal meddling.  Dish also considered it appropriate to oppose the AT&T/DirecTV merger.

But note something peculiar.  Several years prior, Dish itself sought to merge with DirecTV.  Similarly, Dish sought to merge with T-Mobile back in 2015, and in 2013 it asked the FCC to refrain from interfering with the Sprint/Softbank Stake merger, because its own desire to acquire Clearwire depended upon that particular merger going forward.  And in 2011, Dish sought a $2 billion purchase of Hulu, despite maligning the same company less than one year earlier.

Again, we hold no particular animosity toward Dish as an entity, and no opinion regarding the quality of its service.  But we do have a problem with a company inserting itself into merger negotiations between third parties, characterizing mergers as harmful to the marketplace and imploring regulators to interfere with other parties’ private interactions, only to turn around and seek the very same types of mergers when it anticipates some individualized benefit.

That is the definition of crony capitalism, and it should be opposed by government officials and American citizens alike.

February 21st, 2014 at 11:09 am
CFIF TechNotes
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The tech policy arena in recent days has understandably been dominated by two issues in the news – the proposed Comcast/Time-Warner Cable merger and the refusal of Net “Neutrality” proponents to allow that pernicious campaign to finally die a justified death.

Regarding the Comcast/Time-Warner  Cable merger, the Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso offers one of the better primers.  He rightly criticizes the anti-merger hyperbole, and notes that the agreement is actually a sign of increased competition, not diminishing competition:

To begin with, these companies do not compete with each other.  Comcast and Time-Warner Cable (not to be confused with Time-Warner, the media firm from which TWC was hived off in 2009) operate in geographically distinct cable TV franchises around the country.  They do not overlap.

Moreover, while they are the largest and second-largest cable TV firms nationally, that metric is largely meaningless.  The paid television marketplace includes many other competitors, ranging from telecommunications firms such as Verizon and AT&T to satellite providers such as DIRECTV, to a growing band of Internet TV providers such as Netflix and Apple TV.  It’s a diverse marketplace, in which Comcast and TWC together serve barely 30 percent of subscribers. (In fact, Comcast has pledged to divest cable systems to keep the share below that figure). “

The Wall Street Journal provided the same reassurance, confirming that “a merged Comcast and TWC still has plenty of competition”:

[U]nlike the markets for beer, air travel and wireless, cable companies don’t compete with each other.  They have local franchises and compete against telephone, wireless and satellite companies.  So there’s no market overlap between systems owned by Comcast and those of Time Warner Cable.  Comcast, which is dominant in Philadelphia, will get millions of new customers in New York and Los Angeles.  But how can dominance in one geographic region give Comcast new pricing power in a different area?”

And the following day, the  Journal’s Holman Jenkins takes a nice swipe at the toxic un-dead specter of Net “Neutrality” as it relates to the proposed merger:

But standing in the way is the tired concept of ‘net neutrality,’ beloved by regulators and mau-mau groups but never enacted by Congress and frequently questioned by the courts. Yet now, thanks to America’s deranged merger approval process, Time Warner and Comcast risk having just such rules imposed on them (and no one else) as extortion for regulators approving their deal.”

With federal overregulation already exacerbating what has been the most sluggish economic recovery in recorded U.S. history, and with the American public listing big government as the nation’s foremost threat, the bottom line is that bureaucratic interference via Net “Neutrality” or in the private proposed merger of Comcast and Time-Warner remains a bad idea.

On a different and more optimistic note to end the week, however, Notre Dame philosophy professor Don Howard and the Manhattan Institute’s Mark Mills anticipate the upcoming arrival of self-driving automobiles, so long as overactive government regulators referenced above don’t spoil the party:

The self-driving-car solution is clear.  Congress should pre-empt Nhtsa and the trial lawyers and pass a National Autonomous Vehicle Injury Act.  The Fords and Nissans and Googles and Qualcomms should voluntarily create an Autonomous Vehicle Event Reporting System.  And industry players should also create a National Autonomous Vehicle Compensation System.  (Vaccine compensation is funded with a de minimis tax on each dose.)  Last November, Nhtsa Administrator David Strickland told Congress that ‘in addition to the devastation” that “crashes cause to families, the economic costs to society reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars.  Automated vehicles can potentially help reduce these numbers significantly.’

That potential has already been realized, whether regulators understand it or not.  If the human toll from highway accidents were a disease and we knew there was a cure, it would be immoral not to marshal every corner of government and industry to deploy it.”

So allow the private sector to move forward, whether through voluntary mergers or technological innovation, beyond the interference of overzealous government regulators.  What a novel concept.

October 11th, 2012 at 5:40 pm
More Labor Strife at US Air, Yet Unions Continue to Push a Merger?
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We at CFIF have highlighted labor union leaders’  destructive efforts to force a merger between American Airlines and US Air.  We’ve also launched TalktoYourPilot.com for weary passengers to tweet or post their disgust toward the Allied Pilots Association (APA) union whose sabotage has caused massive inconvenience for innocent American Airlines travelers.  And just last week, the Washington Times ran our commentary detailing APA’s behavior within the larger context of a history of labor union malfeasance.

In those commentaries, we noted the irony of the unions’ merger-mania, considering the fact that US Air has yet to fully integrate the new employees it acquired with its 2005 takeover of America West Airlines, including an ongoing seven-year dispute with pilots over seniority and pay scales.

Now we’re witnessing further confirmation of our point.  Leaders of the US Air flight attendants’ union plan a strike vote beginning October 31, just the latest example of the company’s poor labor relations.   For the second time this year, US Air’s flight attendants rejected a contract offer  that would have at long last placed pre-merger America West members under the same agreement as US Air’s.  Meanwhile, Laura Glading, the leader of American’s flight attendant union, maintains her support of an American-US Air merger.  Disgusted with a leader who pushes a merger with an airline that can’t even resolve its own labor ills, American flight attendants have created a Recall Laura Glading page.

Once again, this illustrates the illogic and abuse that characterizes modern unions’ overreach and destructive behavior.  That behavior continues to threaten consumers, the industry and – as demonstrated by the American flight attendants’ recall effort – union members themselves.

June 11th, 2012 at 1:59 pm
Coalition to FCC: Approve Verizon/SpectrumCo Deal Now

In a letter delivered on Friday, a coalition of 14 free market organizations, including the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”), urged the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to approve a private deal between Verizon and cable companies that will free currently unused spectrum to help alleviate the growing “spectrum crunch” that many wireless consumers – particularly those in densely populated areas of the country – are already feeling.

The letter, which was organized by ATR’s Digital Liberty, reads in part:

Demand for wireless broadband is more than doubling annually, but vast swaths of valuable spectrum – the lifeblood of mobile communications – remain unavailable to wireless carriers. Consumers in densely populated urban areas are already suffering from inadequate wireless capacity. While meeting this robust demand will require wireless carriers to adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach, increasing spectrum availability is unquestionably the most fundamental and cost-effective means to meet wireless demand.

Unfortunately, spectrum auctions that will enable wireless carriers to bid on additional spectrum remain years away. Verizon Wireless’s proposed transfer presents a rare and crucial opportunity to deploy currently unused spectrum for wireless broadband. The spectrum at issue is ideally situated in the 1700/2100 MHz AWS bands, covering over 80 percent of the U.S. population (259 million POPs). Consumers will see substantial net benefits from expanded coverage enabled by additional spectrum, especially compared to more costly and time-consuming undertakings such as cell splitting.

With demand for wireless broadband more than doubling annually, the FCC’s own estimates predict that demand for wireless spectrum will exceed supply in 2013.  Yet Obama’s FCC has done little if anything at all to make additional and much-needed spectrum available to wireless network operators. 

In fact, under the Obama Administration the FCC has worked to delay and outright block private-sector deals to alleviate the growing spectrum crunch.  Last year, the FCC took unprecedented steps to block the then-pending AT&T-T-Mobile merger, going so far as to publicly release a biased draft staff report in opposition to the merger that the commissioners themselves never approved and quite  possibly didn’t even read.  Had that merger been approved, AT&T was promising to deploy high-speed mobile broadband to 95 percent of all Americans.  And the FCC has been over-scrutinizing and slow-walking approval of the Verizon-SpectrumCo deal since December.

Read the full coalition letter to the FCC here.

May 8th, 2012 at 5:07 pm
Big Labor Attempts to Commandeer American Airlines
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Big Labor is at it again.  This time in the airline industry.

As you’ve probably heard, US Airways has proposed a merger with American Airlines, and the latter’s labor unions have eagerly pursued contract agreements with their potential new employer.  A benevolent effort meant to expedite the process?  Hardly.  Rather, it is a hasty, thinly-veiled act of desperation.  Instead of allowing American’s bankruptcy restructuring process to run its natural course, and a stronger airline to emerge, American’s unions have acted in a manner that can only serve to muddle and complicate the situation.

Here’s the critical fact to keep in mind: American Airlines reached its current predicament due primarily to its onerous labor costs.  Its industry-high labor costs, representing fully 28% of its revenue, led to bankruptcy.  Now, however, its unions seek to repeat that futile process by pursuing similar deals with US Airways.  It defies history and economic reality to believe that a new merger under similar conditions would create such a magical synergy allowing the new contracts to be sustained for a lasting amount of time.

On top of that, successfully integrating two separate workforces into one can be a logistical nightmare.  After all, US Airways itself has yet to fully integrate the new employees it acquired with its 2005 takeover of America West Airlines.  Pilots from both carriers have engaged in an ongoing dispute over seniority and pay scales, and to this day US Airways and America West essentially operate as two separate entities, with US Airways pilots only flying US Airways planes and vice-versa.  How could repeating that scenario be expected to create sudden synergies or cost savings?  What evidence is there that this union-proposed takeover might play out differently?

Make no mistake – we at CFIF don’t maintain any inherent antipathy toward mergers.  We do, however, recognize the pitfalls and dangers of mergers suspiciously pursued and negotiated by union bosses.  The unfortunate reality is that this appears to be yet another example of Big Labor pursuing its own interests at the expense of the rank-and-file employees it claims to represent.

By way of historical background, the airline industry has changed rapidly over the years due to rising fuel costs and other market forces.  Countless carriers have restructured union contracts or merged with competitors to reduce costs and remain in the market.

American Airlines stands as the lone exception.

American has never merged with another airline, and until this year it had never filed for bankruptcy.  As a result, its unionized employees have enjoyed arguably the best salaries and benefits packages in the industry.  And in an ironic bit of history, US Airways has itself gone through several bankruptcies over the years, and even frozen or terminated pensions and many of the types of benefits they’re apparently ceding to American’s labor unions in hopes of a quick deal.

We live in economically uncertain times, in which the cushy union contracts of old have become outdated and fiscally unsustainable.  The fact that American, once the nation’s model airline, is bankrupt is itself evidence of how challenging it has become to operate in the industry.  Big Labor knows this well.  After all, it represents a significant percentage of the industry workforce.  Sadly, however, it refuses to learn the straightforward lessons of recent history, and instead continues to demand unreasonable contracts that will put the longevity and viability of airlines at risk.  In so doing, shortsighted union leaders place their own survival above that of their members.  They concern themselves primarily with replenishing their coffers and pursuing political victories financed by union dues.

That imprudent approach may benefit the union leadership in the near term.  But in the end, it proves to the detriment of average unionized American Airlines employees, as well as customers due to the reduced long-term viability of a bloated, union-controlled airline.  The alternative is to allow American the opportunity to right the ship and carve out a new, mutually-beneficial agreement with its employees.  Concessions will need to be made by both management and labor, and it will necessary for American Airlines’ bankruptcy proceedings to run its course.

The Big Labor alternative to repeat the unsustainable cycle will merely prolong the misery at the expense of employees and consumers.

December 1st, 2011 at 5:48 pm
FCC Malfeasance on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Threatens American Jobs, Breaks with Established Protocol
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So federal bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), those known master micromanagers of the American economy, concluded in their wisdom to oppose the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, two independent, free, private parties.  Along the way, the FCC went to the improper and unprecedented extreme of releasing a staff report gratuitously and inaccurately critiquing the justifications offered for the merger.  Again, we’re talking about a merger between two consenting, informed parties.  We’re also talking about a merger application that was voluntarily withdrawn by the parties.  Yet the FCC, for reasons still unexplained, broke with decades of administrative protocol and published the staff report.

Remember, this is the same supposedly omnipotent federal government that managed the housing market so well in recent decades through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not to mention the splendid business acumen it displayed in the energy sector with such examples as Solyndra.  And it’s the same FCC that incompetently attempted to commandeer Internet service through so-called “Net Neutrality,” which earned it a unanimous rebuke from the D.C. Court of Appeals and Congress.

Turning its eye toward the telecommunications industry, the FCC decided in its considered expertise that the AT&T/T-Mobile merger was not in the best interests of the American people.  As one particularly curious example, the FCC staff report claims that the proposed merger would cause job losses.  One would think that federal regulators would be more circumspect in asserting job projections in light of the slow-motion “stimulus” disaster that was supposed to cap unemployment at 8% in October 2009.  Instead, unemployment stands at 9% and has exceeded 8% for a record number of months.  Moreover, if the merger was a likely job-killer, why would even the Communication Workers of America (CWA) labor union support it?  The FCC asks us to believe that the labor union most impacted by the proposed merger would somehow seek fewer dues-paying members?

Moreover, the FCC itself within the past month claimed that its own $4.5 billion fund to deploy wireline broadband to just 7 million Americans would create “500,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic growth.”  Yet it now contradicts itself by claiming the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, which would deploy broadband service to the far greater number of 55 million Americans, would somehow destroy jobs?  In other words, the FCC seems to think that smaller amounts of government spending to bring broadband to a smaller number of people will create jobs, but much larger amounts of private investment to bring broadband to a much greater number of people will not.

Federal bureaucrats are unequipped to micromanage the telecom industry, just as they’re incompetent to tell Boeing (America’s top exporter) where it can and cannot operate manufacturing plants.  It’s yet another example that the FCC is out of control, and threatening American jobs by its malfeasance.