New York, NY – After nine months striking, the roughly 1,800 Charter/Spectrum workers represented by IBEW Local 3 are
headed into the holiday season still unsure about their survival — but the multi-billion-dollar telecom giant that employs them doesn’t want to talk about what it means to be a “good corporate citizen” or what their responsibility to working men and women might be.
The second-largest telecom in the nation with revenues topping $29 billion last year, had a chance, earlier this week, to accept a union offer to reinstate the old employee contact for the next couple of years and bring the interminable 9-month-old strike to an immediate end. Charter/Spectrum, which happily pays its CEO Tom Rutledge a $98 million compensation package, refused to give workers the time of day.
When asked on Thursday about Charter/Spectrum’s responsibility to working men and women and the middle-class customers it serves, Director of Communications, New York City Region, John Bonomo declined to comment. Opting, instead to reiterate the company line that has failed to move the needle an inch since last March.
“Our offer, which we implemented in July, includes an immediate average wage increase of 22 percent — with some employees eligible for a 55-percent increase — complemented by the same excellent health insurance choices we offer to the rest of our 92,000 employees and a 401(k) savings plan with a generous six-percent dollar-for-dollar match,” Bonomo told LaborPress in an email. “A Local 3 member who comes back to work tomorrow begins receiving all these benefits tomorrow.”
IBEW Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson has already accused Charter/Spectrum of union busting. Bonomo’s direct appeal to individual Local 3 members to cross the picket line only gives further credence to the accusation.
The union maintains that Charter/Spectrum’s outlandish talk of 55-percentage wage increases and “excellent health insurance choices” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when considering all the givebacks the corporation is insisting, and the superior medical and pension benefits that workers have already fought to secure.
What about that discrepancy? Charter/Spectrum’s spokesperson doesn’t want to address it either.
Publicly, at least, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are becoming increasingly fed up with Charter/Spectrum’s obdurate stance. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is already suing them for allegedly defrauding customers.
If the chants of “Lock Him Up!” that were directed at Rutledge during the last IBEW Local 3 rally held in Times Square, or rising working class frustration ultimately resulting in corporate reforms are giving Charter/Spectrum execs pause, Bonomo isn’t saying.
As LaborPress legal contributor Alexander Schmidt points out, amending existing laws that govern corporate behavior run the gamut from campaign spending full disclosure measures, to empowering attorneys general to revoke corporate charters.
Governor Cuomo has previous warned Charter/Spectrum that if it doesn’t live up to prior agreements, “they’re going to be out of the State of New York.”
Once again, if Charter/Spectrum execs are at all concerned with that sobering prospect, they aren’t talking about it either.
And the strike continues.