September 3, 2014
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Editorial
In January 2012, 285 Brooklyn Cablevision workers voted to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1109. Three years ago these Brooklyn Cablevision technicians stood together and faced intimidation and harassment by Cablevision in order to be members of a union. Yes, it’s been three years that Cablevision refuses to settle a fair contract. Instead of providing a decent wage with dignity and respect, Cablevision has carried out a vicious union busting campaign that New Yorkers have not seen it decades.
Management refuses to sign off on even the most basic elements of a typical collective bargaining agreement. Following an NLRB trial, Cablevision and its CEO James Dolan have been charged with threatening and spying on workers.
Rather than negotiate with CWA Local 1109, Cablevision has initiated an intense anti-union media campaign. Dolan rewards local and national news organizations that support their anti-union activities and punishes any news organization that supports CWA and their locals. The company has spent millions of dollars on union-busting ads in the ‘friendly’ press. LaborPress will continue to shine a bright light on the despicable behavior of this corporate giant.
The company has done everything it could to fight the workers federally protected right to unionize. Cablevision has spent millions of dollars on executive compensation and union-busting attorneys – far more than it would take to settle a fair contract. It has also given raises of $2 – $9 an hour – as much as $18,000 a year – to nearly 17,000 workers outside of Brooklyn to send an intimidating message about unionization. Cablevision has used 3 different law firms and multiple lawyers during the Brooklyn and Bronx organizing drives and subsequent “bad faith” bargaining. Their current lead negotiator charges $1,000 an hour and they’ve spent millions trying to block the union and avoiding an agreement on a fair contract. While refusing to provide small raises for workers that earn less than $40,000 a year, Cablevision CEO James Dolan’s compensation was $11.45 million in 2011. Total compensation for the top six executives over the last five years added up to $346.4 million dollars—an average of $57.7 million apiece.
The Brooklyn workers of CWA Local 1109 continue without an agreement and are paid less than their counterparts outside of Brooklyn. The pressure must continue on Dolan from legislators and New Yorkers to settle a fair contract with workers. All of labor must be united in supporting these employees. Cablevision operates as if it is untouchable. However, it provides services with the approval of the Federal Communication Commission and other federal agencies. Its horrendous anti-union activities need to be addressed by several legislative bodies. The NLRB also must hold Cablevision accountable for violating federal labor laws.
Neal Tepel is publisher of LaborPress and has been a life-long union activist.