May 4, 2012
By Ray Parker, Staff Writer
They’re rich and they’re rude – and they don’t want to give their technicians a contract. That’s the message well-heeled tourists heard as they tried to flag cabs outside of the Hilton Hotel at 54th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan on Thursday May 3rd. The occasion was an IAMAW protest outside the annual shareholders meeting of DirecTV, the satellite channel that’s been competing with cable and broadcast TV all over the country.
The IAMAW wishes DirecTV every success, just not at the expense of installation techs in Los Angeles who voted to unionize two years ago but have found the company stonewalling on a contract.
James Conigliaro, Directing Business Representative for IAMAW District 15 here in New York called the demonstration along with TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, who brought transit workers in solidarity with the Los Angeles installation technicians.
Also on hand to lend support were the heads of both the New York City Central Labor Council, Vinny Alvarez, and the New York State AFL-CIO, Mario Cilento. Alvarez noted that DirecTV CEO Michael White received $33 million in compensation in 2010 – but can’t find room to bargain with union members who won an NLRB certified election. He scored the unfairness of the company for its refusal to negotiate.
“Corporate greed – I think we’ve had enough of it,” Conigliaro said. “There seems to be an all-out assault on American workers. We can’t stand for this anymore. The more they make the less they want us to have. We need to stand up and let them know we’re not going to take it.”
Local 100 President Samuelsen said, “We’re sick and tired of corporations that attack their own workforce. We stand in solidarity with the machinists who work for DirecTV, and we’re waiting for a phone call from the machinists to tell our members that DirecTV is not worthy of their support.”
Richard Sanchez of Machinists District 947 in Long Beach, CA told of how workers would get stiffed by DirecTV. If an installer showed up at a customer’s home and didn’t have a ladder high enough to reach the satellite hookup on a high roof, he would have to wait – sometimes for hours – for the right ladder to be delivered. During that time he would be held without pay, and if they ladder didn’t turn up, the worker would not be paid for the entire job. Sanchez also said workers were forced to lie on their time cards that they took lunch when they actually were not allowed to.
A 6-year installer who was fired for union activity, Richard Fernandez, said that when he was promoted to supervisor he found out how badly the company treated its technicians. He spoke of 14 hour days and six day weeks, some of that time being docked for pay. “They asked me to give out the names of everyone who was trained to organize. I refused to do so. Then I was terminated,” he said.