In a bid to seal its $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA and assure lawmakers fearful of job cuts resulting from the blockbuster merger, The New York Times reports, AT&T announced today that it will bring back 5,000 wireless call-center jobs that were outsourced abroad. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson, pictured above at a congressional hearing in May, has previously said that the merger will create jobs when the combined company builds out a next-generation wireless network. But the latest move takes that argument one step further. "As I sit here and watch the news over the last month, I can't help but ask, 'What else can we do?'" Stephenson told The Times. "This sends a good message to the U.S. and to the labor markets." AT&T adds that the new U.S. employees could join the company's unionized workforce and won't displace current U.S. call-center employees.
Still, as The Times points out, jobs aren't the only obstacle standing in the way of U.S. regulators approving the merger of two of the country's biggest cellphone service providers. Competitors like Sprint claim the combination will hurt competition, while public interest groups assert that it will result in higher prices. "AT&T has its supporters, including telecommunications workers' unions, technology companies like Microsoft and Facebook and 27 governors," the paper adds." The company has also made a big lobbying effort to drum up additional backing."
Update: Only hours after AT&T announced its plan to repatriate jobs, Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. government has filed court papers in Washington to block the merger with T-Mobile.