Mar 21, 2013
A strong support campaign by community leaders and NYC elected officials convinced Cablevision-Optimum to rehire the 22 workers it illegally locked out and fired seven weeks ago. Community protests were held outside Cablevision-Optimum's Brooklyn garages, all four major Democratic mayoral candidates condemned the firing, and the City Council held a hearing on whether Cablevision-Optimum had violated its franchise agreement with the City of New York.
"It's clear that Cablevision-Optimum outdid itself with its despicable, illegal behavior in taking money out of the pockets of its hard-working employees — and their families — simply for exercising their rights," said Chris Shelton, CWA District 1 vice president. "Cablevision and CEO James Dolan have wasted an immense amount of time, money and effort to fight against these workers in Brooklyn just because they unionized and want a contract. These workers have their jobs back, and now they deserve their back pay, a fair contract, and respect."
Cablevision-Optimum claimed that the workers were "permanently replaced" because they were on strike. The reality: the 22 workers sought to take advantage of the company's "open door" policy to discuss their grievances with one of their managers — protected activity under federal law. A Cablevision-Optimum vice president then told the workers that they were being "permanently replaced" — a term usually applied to workers who are on strike. The workers clearly were not on strike and were willing to work, and in fact, at least five of the fired workers were already in the field and had to be called in to be told they were "permanently replaced."
CWA has called for NYC to hold the company accountable for breaching its franchise agreement, which requires that the company "recognize the right of its employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing in accordance with applicable law." CWA also called for an end to tax breaks and special permits for companies owned by Dolan, who also owns Madison Square Garden. And Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sent a letter to the National Basketball Association urging it not to hold its All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
The nearly 300 Brooklyn technicians voted for CWA representation in January 2012, but Cablevision-Optimum has refused to bargain a fair contract. After a year of bargaining, management still refuses to agree to even the most basic workers protections, let alone any meaningful discussion of wages and benefits.
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