The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprising 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans, has issued a statement supporting a plan by AT&T to merge with T-Mobile.
An NBCI statement said the merger will lead to bringing back 5,000 call center jobs to the United States from overseas and creating more than 90,000 new jobs nationwide.
"AT&T is a company that will help the African-American community reduce its persistently high unemployment rate, which now stands at 16.7 percent,” the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the NBCI, said in the statement. “This is why we have authorized over 100,000 churches to be supportive of AT&T and, indeed, any company that will help solve our community's unemployment crisis."
The proposed merger has run into roadblocks from the federal government over concerns that it will greatly reduce competitiveness in the telecommunication industry.
Arguing in favor of the merger, the NBCI said repatriation of 5,000 call center jobs would be the largest return of jobs by any U.S. company since the economic crisis began in 2008.
"I will fight for any company that will bring jobs to my community and one of the very few that's doing it is AT&T,” the Rev. Sheldon Williams, pastor of Co-Op City Baptist Church in Bronx, N.Y., said in the statement.
Other supporters quoted by the NBCI include the Rev. Mark McCleary, chairman of NBCI Ministerial Alliance, who said, "My congregation is suffering. We have over 500 of our congregants unemployed. We need jobs and we need them now."