New York, NY – It’s been 16 months, but striking Charter/Spectrum worker Darren Fonseca, 41, still finds himself growing upset the minute he starts talking about the way the telecommunications giant has treated longtime employees like him.
“This is a job that I thought I was going to retire from,” the Queens father of two said. “This is what I was great at.”
Charter/Spectrum reportedly rejected IBEW Local 3’s latest proposal to end the strike on July 11 — an offer that purportedly would have largely preserved the benefits packages of existing employees, while also allowing the corporation to have its way with new hires.
IBEW Local 3 now faces the very real possibility of being ousted as the designated bargaining agent for Charter/Spectrum workers after a level III tech hired well after the current strike initially began back on March 28, 2017, filed papers to decertify the union.
Striking workers, however, maintain that Bruce Carberry is nothing more than a corporate stooge who somehow managed to retain a hefty managerial salary despite transitioning from a supervisory role down to a level III tech.
“The guy was brought in – he’s a front, pretty much,” Staten Island mom Sanela Djencic told LaborPress. “He was brought in to bust the union.”
Djencic’ husband Vedat worked for the cable giant for 13 years before going out on strike with roughly 1,800 other IBEW Local 3 co-workers last year.
Charter/Spectrum bought out Time-Warner Cable for roughly $65 billions in 2016.
“[Charter/Spectrum] had a plan and they’re sticking to it,” Djencic said. “They thought about it and they thought about every possible scenario that could come along with it — and they’re going to go through with it.”
Fonseca, however, still has trouble wrapping his head around the lengths Charter/Spectrum has allegedly gone to break the backs of strikers.
“It’s disappointing and sad that Spectrum has done this to us — all because they don’t want to pay into the medical…dental benefits and the pension,” he said. “They destroyed a lot of families out here. I’ve seen many of my friends lose their houses; they’ve had to sell their houses and move into apartments. Right now, I’m behind on rent, too.”
Over the past 16 months, Fonseca estimates that he’s burned through more than $60,000 in saving just trying to keep his family of four afloat.
For the amount of money Charter/Spectrum has paid on splashy advertising alone, Djencic argues that the corporation could have easily struck a deal with IBEW Local 3 and ended the 16-month-old strike.
The guy was brought in – he’s a front, pretty much. He was brought in to bust the union. — Sanela Djencic
Like Fonseca and his family and so many others, the Charter/Spectrum strike has been crippling for the Djencic family, as well.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s hard because we’re homeowners,” Djencic said. “It’s been really rough on us. We took a really, really big financial hit over the past year-and-a-half.”
Charter/Spectrum denies having any role in the decertification petition that Carberry filed.
“Charter had no involvement in the filing of the decertification petition,” Charter/Spectrum spokesperson John Bonomo told LaborPress in an email. “We don’t have any further comment.”
A date for the actual decertification vote will reportedly not take place until the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] completes an investigation into several Unfair Labor Practices charges.
In a June 27, Charter Communications communique, purportedly by John Quigley, RVP, NYC Field Operations, employs were told, “It is a common tactic for unions to delay and/or block decertification efforts as long as possible by filing these kinds of charges — instead of allowing the voice of employees to be heard and living with the result of the vote.”
The corporation insists that workers who have crossed the picket line are presently enjoying great wages and benefits.
“They just find it a lot easier to go back to them,” Fonseca said. “Not knowing that if Spectrum is successful in decertifying the union — I guarantee you — each and every one of them that went back is going to be screwed.”
Despite enduring a 16-month strike, Djencic still maintains hope that the sacrifices union families have made will not be in vain.
“[Charter/Spectrum] has been tip-toeing around everything — trying to sort of find a way to finagle themselves out of any type of question, or any type of heat they face in regards to the union busting that is so obvious to all of us,” she said. “In my heart, I want to say that they won’t prevail.”