AT&T-Time Warner merger earns IBEW, CWA union support

AT&T’s proposed $85 billion Time Warner merger has a long road ahead of it at the U.S. Justice Department, but at least the unions have lent the company their support.

This week, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) issued a statement in support of the merger. International President Lonnie Stephenson said the merger would be a “boon to good jobs in the cable and telecommunication industry” while promoting more customer choice and innovation.

“At a time when promoting sustainable middle-class jobs and investment in high-tech infrastructure should be national priorities, it is vital that the Justice Department and the current administration do the right thing and say yes to the AT&T/Time-Warner merger.”

The IBEW’s latest statement -- the union sent a letter to Congress in December 2016 in support of the merger -- arrives roughly two weeks after the Communications Workers of America (CWA) also called for the merger to be approved.

“This merger is about maintaining and creating good U.S. jobs and developing new and innovative ways to deliver technology and content,” said CWA President Chris Shelton in a statement. “A merged AT&T-Time Warner would provide much-needed new competition to companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, where working people don’t have union representation.”

CWA also said it is completely opposed to the Department of Justice’s—or whoever else’s—insistence that AT&T must divest CNN or DirecTV, “since we have a stake at both.”

RELATED: AT&T fires back at DOJ, pushes for February 2018 court date

The union support for AT&T comes as the company is gearing up for a court battle with the DOJ, which filed a lawsuit to block the merger. The DOJ has warned that AT&T could use its market power to overcharge competing distributors for Time Warner content including series from CNN, HBO, TBS and TNT. AT&T has countered by saying its goal is to distribute that content as widely as possible, not restrict access to it.

The CWA’s support for AT&T and Time Warner comes only months after the union and AT&T managed to resolve a fairly contentious contract renewal process that resulted in a workers’ strike.

This article was updated to mention IBEW's original letter of support for the merger.