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Brooklyn Cablevision Workers Looking Forward to CWA Election

Promising Campaign Shows the '99 Percent Message is Resonating'


Cablevision Group

With a promising organizing drive underway and an election set for January, Cablevision workers in Brooklyn show their enthusiasm for CWA at a union meeting in December.

Cablevision workers in Brooklyn, fed up with low wages and little respect from management, have their best opportunity yet for a union voice, with an election for CWA representation set for Jan. 26.

The organizing drive is "the most promising at Cablevision that CWA has ever had," CWA Local 1109 Executive Vice President Chris Calabrese said. More than 70 percent of the 280 field technicians, dispatchers and other operations employees have signed cards seeking representation.

"Cablevision has kept wages, benefits and working conditions way below the standards of union workers and it keeps asking more of them," Calabrese said. "The company really doesn't respect its workers, who have seen friends get terminated for no reason. So they've decided to fight back."

The company is running a typically vicious anti-union campaign, with one-on-one and group meetings, slanderous anti-CWA flyers and "innuendo that workers should 'watch your step,'" Calabrese said. In 2008, those kind of tactics succeeded in killing an organizing drive, but times have changed, he said.

"They held a captive audience meeting this morning, and I just got a report that the workers took over the meeting and put the company's vice president on defense," Calabrese said Dec. 21.

Sending a strong message of support for CWA and the organizing drive, New York Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and City Councilman Jumaane Williams attended a union meeting this week. "The workers knew that these elected leaders wouldn't be standing up there next to us if any of the lies that Cablevision is spreading about CWA were true," he said.

Another factor that may be driving the campaign is corporate greed, and the fact that Cablevision's CEO made $28 million last year. "I think the whole 99 percent, 1 percent message is resonating, and I think it resonated with those guys and they said enough is enough," Calabrese said.

It also helps that one of Cablevision's locations is just a few blocks from a Verizon worksite. "They saw our members fighting back during the strike," he said. "They saw the unity and camaraderie of the workers every time they drove by there."

Learn more at the organizing campaign's website, www.cwabrooklynvision.org.