February 7, 2013
Marc Bussanich and Joe Maniscalco
In January 2012, 300 field technicians working for Cablevision in Brooklyn voted to join the Communications Workers of America. On the one-year anniversary of the vote, 22 technicians were fired by Cablevision because the company claims they refused to work. Read More and Watch Video
But Clarence Adams, a 14-year Cablevision employee, and Chris Calabrese, executive VP for CWA, Local 1109, demonstrating outside the Brooklyn garage on Avenue D in Canarsie alongside members from different unions, said the company deliberately targeted the 22 workers for their union activity.
The cable industry in New York, made up of Time Warner, RCN and Cablevision, has long been non-union, although technicians who do roughly the same type of work for Verizon is heavily unionized.
CWA Local 1109 has been trying to unionize Cablevision’s technicians for several years, but the company has waged a very aggressive anti-union campaign. Although the workers won union recognition over a year ago, previous unionized attempts were defeated.
After the election a year ago, the union says the company continues to bargain in bad faith, refusing to agree on even the most basic elements of a typical collective bargaining agreement.
According to Adams and Calabrese, the technicians approached a company vice president on the morning of January 30 to discuss their grievances. The VP claimed he wasn’t available because he had to attend another meeting. But as the workers were getting ready to leave the facility for their jobs in the field, the VP called them back and asked them to meet him in a conference room.
“We waited for another 20 minutes before he entered the room. Then he told us we were being permanently replaced,” said Adams.
Calabrese said that Cablevision’s tactics are shameful.
“This action was obviously pre-arranged. You don’t call 22 guys into a room and tell them they’re fired with replacement workers ready to go out into the field to work.”