WASHINGTON -- A national coalition representing the nation's leading African American organizations filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission in support of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA.
In its federal filing, the coalition argued that a completed deal would provide African Americans enhanced access to the most technologically advanced tools available to more effectively compete for business opportunities and better jobs.
While the African American community continues to face unemployment rates higher than the national average, limited access to quality health care, near second class educational opportunities, and inconsistent access to the fastest wireless Internet connections – despite high usage rates – this merger could be the antidote to several community challenges.
"AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile has the potential to benefit consumers, communities and workers alike. AT&T has been among the highest ranked in the telecommunications industry for its commitment to diversity in terms of procurement, philanthropy, promotion and hiring at the federal, state and local levels," NAACP Senior Vice President Hilary Shelton said. "Wireless broadband is an integral tool in promoting civic engagement and as such is crucial to voter empowerment. We are hopeful that this acquisition will further advance increased access to affordable and sustainable wireless broadband services and in turn stimulate job creation throughout our country."
Sharon Weston Broome, Chairwoman, NOBEL Women was one of leading intergovernmental organizations that pledged their support. Collectively, the signatory groups represent the approximately 40 million African Americans in the United States.
A recent study by the Pew Research Institute shows that roughly 90 percent of African Americans own a cell phone and more than 60 percent are wireless Internet users.
Despite being at the technological forefront, however, many African American users frequently contend with substandard and inconsistent access on congested urban wireless networks or limited offerings in rural areas.
In the FCC filing, the coalition also commended AT&T's demonstrated commitment to maintaining a diverse workforce and supplier base. Minority-owned firms make up 20 percent of the company's suppliers and nearly 40 percent of AT&T employees are people of color.
The coalition also noted in the FCC support letter the likelihood for increased investments after the proposed merger could provide the African American community with more educational opportunities, expanded healthcare services via telemedicine, enhanced business and employment opportunities.
"The merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will mean more diplomas, better jobs and healthier African American families," National Coalition of Black Civic Participation's President and CEO Melanie L. Campbell said. "A combined AT&T-T-Mobile also will help achieve the Federal Government's goal that our organizations share: 'Connecting every part of America to the digital age.'"
Members of the Coaltion include:
100 Black Men of America, Inc.
A. Philip Randolph Institute
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Altria Group, Inc.
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation Of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Postal Workers Union
Black Congress on Health, Law and Economics
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
Blacks in Government
Church of God in Christ
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Communication Workers of America
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Democratic National Committee
Frontiers International, Inc.
General Motors Corporation
Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks
International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters
International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Union of Operating Engineers
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
MLK, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
National Alliance of Black School Educators
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
National Association of Black County Officials
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters
National Association of Black Women Attorneys
National Association of Investment Companies
National Association of Media Women
National Association of Minority CPA Firms
National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.
National Association of Social Workers
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Bankers Association
National Baptist Convention of America
National Baptist Convention-U.S.A., Inc.
National Bar Association
National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus
National Black Caucus of School Board Members
National Black Caucus of State Legislators
National Black Child Development Institute
National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation
National Black MBA Association, Inc.
National Black School Boards Association
National Black United Federation of Charities, Inc.
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Congress of Black Political Scientists
National Congress of Black Women
National Council of Black Family and Child Development
National Council of Churches
National Council of Negro Women
National Education Association
National Medical Association
National Newspaper Publishers Association
National School Boards Association
National Urban League
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America
PACE International Union
People for the American Way Foundation
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Rainbow / P.U.S.H. Coalition
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Republican National Committee
Service Employees International Union
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Strategic Decisions, Inc.
The Black Women’s Agenda
Union of Needletrades, Industrial Textile & Employees (UNITE!)
United Auto Workers of America
United Food and Commercial Workers Int'l Union
United Steelworkers of America
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.