New York, NY – Unhappy customers, lawsuits, notices of default, orders to get out of the state — telecommunications giant Charter/Spectrum could have avoided it all, according to IBEW Local 3 Assistant Business Manger Lance Van Arsdale, if only the corporation would have invested in its workforce and infrastructure instead of blowing billions of dollars on costly stock buybacks.
Local 3’s assistant business manager made the comments outside NY1’s Chelsea Market studios on Monday morning, as the union distributed flyers informing the public about their 19-month-old strike against Charter Communications.
“Charter bought back $17 billion worth of stock over the last three years,” Van Arsdale told LaborPress. “What does that mean? Instead of putting $17 billion into their workforce and the infrastructure, they just pumped up the stock price so they could get my stock options for their executives. If they would have spent 10-percent of that to build out Upstate [New York] the way they promised — and treat their workers fairly with their pension and their medical —you wouldn’t have this problem.”
New York officials from the governor on down have vowed to boycott NY1 interviews until the parent company — Charter/Spectrum — settles the ongoing strike with Local 3 workers.
“We have been to the table and they’re still taking the stance that they don’t want to contribute for a full contract with the pension and medical,” Van Arsdale said. “That’s why we’re doing this — to make everybody aware that it didn’t go away, that we’re still on strike, and we’re not going to give up our pension and medical.”
We have been to the table, and they’re still taking the stance that they don’t want to contribute for a full contract with the pension and medical. That’s why we’re doing this — to make everybody aware that it didn’t go away — that we’re still on strike — and we’re not going to give up our pension and medical. — Lance Van Arsdale, assistant business manager, IBEW Local 3
Earlier this year, other trade unionists marched on the New York Stock Exchange demanding a modest .5-percent stock transfer tax to pay for vital services.
“It’s not enough to be angry — we need change now,” Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou (D-WFP 65th District) said. “We can’t stand by and allow those at the top to keep pocketing dollars that should be going to healthcare, affordable housing and livable wages for all New York residents.”
Not only haven’t vital services been funded in the wake of Donald Trump’s massive tax cut to the rich, corporate kingpins — including those at Charter — have decided to further squeeze working men & women in exactly the ways Van Arsdale describes.
“After awhile, there’s a line in the sand, and we have to take it because what happens here — it’ll happen to everybody else,” the Local 3 official added. “And then what’s the next thing that’ll disappear? The economy, is quote – ‘doing so, great’. Trump just gave away the store as far as the Treasury is concerned in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations — and what does that do for the average middle-class person? It puts them behind. The millennials have student debts that are equal to people’s mortgages. We can’t survive like this. If you look at the baby boomers that are retiring now…are they going to be able to live just on Social Security? I don’t think so.”
Charter/Spectrum has yet to respond to requests for comment.
We have to change this — and we’re trying to change this in a way that’s orderly; where it doesn’t turn into a mess the way that Trump wants to turn it into a mess,” Van Arsdale said. “We’re trying to have Charter become educated about what they’re doing. In the end, it’s their customers…if [customers] can’t buy the service, what are they going to give up — their rent or their cable-TV? They’re going to give up their cable-TV. [Charter/Spectrum] is going to put themselves out of business.”