Today, 23 Brooklyn Cablevision workers were illegally fired after attempting to discuss the lack of good-faith bargaining by the company with their management and expressing support for their bargaining committee – protected activities by federal law. The Communications Workers of America, which the workers voted to join a year ago, condemned the firings as an illegal and outrageous attack on the company’s hard-working employees. Last week, CWA had filed unfair labor practice charges alleging bad-faith bargaining by Cablevision-Optimum.
“Over the last year, Cablevision-Optimum has demonstrated it not only lacks respect for its Brooklyn employees who have chosen to stand up for their rights as workers, but also for federal labor laws and the entire borough of Brooklyn,” said Chris Shelton, Vice President of CWA District 1. “Cablevision has illegally failed to negotiate in good faith with its Brooklyn workers, illegally intimidated workers in other boroughs, and today brazenly violated federal law by firing workers for protected activity. By singling out 23 leaders who were ready to work by terminating them, Cablevision is trying to take New York City back to the bad days when workers were openly exploited and mistreated by abusive corporations.”
Today’s action by Cablevision-Optimum to fire workers is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the rights of workers to engage in group activity, and it follows the company’s recent settlement of NLRB charges alleging it violated Brooklyn workers’ rights. CWA expects the NLRB to issue a complaint soon on other acts of intimidation and harassment.
Over a year ago, nearly 300 Cablevision technicians and dispatchers in Brooklyn joined the CWA, in one of the first successful organizing drives in the largely non-union cable industry and despite a vicious anti-union campaign of harassment and intimidation. But nearly a year later, Cablevision has yet to offer its Brooklyn workers a fair contract, choosing to spend far more on executive compensation and union-busting attorneys than it would take to settle a fair contract. To stop the union from spreading beyond Brooklyn, the company even granted all of its technicians between $2 and $9 an hour raises except for its Brooklyn workers. At the same time, at the bargaining table for Brooklyn, Cablevision has refused to bargain in good faith, including refusing to offer any improvements to wages, benefits or working conditions. Cablevision’s Brooklyn workers are fighting for equal pay, good benefits, and dignity and respect on the job.