As an elected official, nothing is more important to me than growing good jobs in Maine. I have dedicated much of my time to finding ways to attract new jobs to our state and, even more importantly, saving the ones we already have.

It has been a source of pride and satisfaction that we were able to open First Park in Oakland, which has attracted great employers, like the T-Mobile call center.

So it should come as no surprise that when I learned about the proposed T-Mobile merger with AT&T, my first concern was the impact this might have on the jobs in Oakland. They are good jobs in central Maine, and we need to do whatever we can to protect them.

Like many people, I was worried because I know that mergers almost always result in some job losses because of duplicative functions that exist between the merging companies.

Recent emails sent by a lobbyist for Sprint to Maine legislators capitalize on that fear. The messages contain dire predictions about the loss of jobs in Oakland that would result from the merger.

The allegations serve to foster fear and are just the kind of worst-case scenarios that have a real impact on the people working at T-Mobile. They are extraordinarily counterproductive.

Since the merger announcement, I have had several private conversations with AT&T officials. Through those conversations and the strong public statements that company officials have made about their commitment to the Oakland call center, I am greatly encouraged.

AT&T wrote a letter in April to Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in which the company said, “We have no plans to close the T-Mobile call center in Oakland following the merger.”

Then in August, AT&T announced that should the merger be approved, not only would the company not reduce call center jobs, but would bring an additional 5,000 call center jobs back to the United States from overseas.

Our goal in Oakland should be to welcome AT&T as a new employer, and also to encourage it to grow even more jobs in Oakland and Maine.

These two statements suggest that the future of the Oakland call center will be secure should federal regulators approve the merger between T-Mobile and AT&T.

I also have observed that AT&T supports various organizations in the mid-Maine area that T-Mobile has supported in the past, actions that signal it plans on being a good corporate community partner that intends to have a business presence in the area for years to come.

All of this is good news for call center employees and for the economic health of our region should the merger be approved.

I spend much of my time trying to save and build jobs, and I am offended when a company tries to undermine another business through innuendo and false claims.

If those behind the claims against AT&T want to come to Maine, open a call center and compete in the wireless service market, we would love to have them. But, so far, the primary investment they seem to have made in Maine is in perpetuating fear.

Rep. Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, is speaker of the Maine House, representing Sidney and most of Oakland.


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