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NLRB Threatens Two Complaints in One Week Against Cablevision

The National Labor Relations Board has threatened to file two complaints against Cablevision this week.

Today, The New York Times reports:

John J. Walsh, the acting director of the labor board's regional office in Brooklyn, said his office planned to file a complaint against Cablevision, saying it "has bargained with no intent to reach an agreement" with its Brooklyn workers since they voted to unionize 15 months ago.

Mr. Walsh said Cablevision had engaged in bad-faith bargaining by failing to provide union negotiators with needed information, by retracting previously agreed-upon proposals and by refusing to meet on a regular basis. Cablevision, he also said, had shown bad faith by making "proposals that no quote unquote self-respecting union could accept, such as the unfettered right to subcontract work."

Cablevision recently illegally locked out and fired 22 Brooklyn workers attempting to meet with management about contract negotiations. Thanks to community mobilization, those fired employees are now back at work. But they still don't have a first contract.

On Monday, the NLRB's regional office said it would issue a complaint against Cablevision because the company illegally intimidated, harassed and bribed workers in the run-up to the election.

"Whether it's interfering with a fair election in the Bronx or refusing to sign a fair contract in Brooklyn, Cablevision's behavior is despicable and shameful," said Chris Calabrese, Executive Vice President of CWA Local 1109, the lead organizer in CWA's contract campaign for Cablevision workers in Brooklyn. "There's no excuse for any business to intimidate its workers in an effort to prevent them from exercising their right to organize and join a union."

Inspired by the 282 Brooklyn Cablevision technicians who successfully joined CWA, Bronx technicians began organizing their own effort last June. But Cablevision hired a union-busting law firm to wage a brutal, illegal anti-union campaign, and Bronx workers voted against unionizing. The NLRB said violations included:

  • In a speech to Bronx workers two days before the NLRB vote, CEO James Dolan personally threatened to deny workers job opportunities and training if they voted for the union.
  • Dolan illegally sought to try to address workers grievances and offer benefits to induce them not to vote for the union in a speech in February 2012.
  • Cablevision illegally gave raises of $2 to $9 an hour — as much as $18,000 a year — to nearly 10,000 employees outside of Brooklyn, but not to the Brooklyn workers, in order to persuade workers to vote against the union.

"We predict that James Dolan will try to sweep these charges under the rug by seeking a settlement of the complaint with the NLRB," Calabrese said. "He knows his actions were so egregious that no judge will find him innocent. If there was no guilt on his part, surely an individual of his reputation would have the courage of his convictions to stand trial and prove his innocence."

The Times reported that the NLRB would "ask a judge to order Mr. Dolan to read aloud, probably on video, a statement acknowledging that Cablevision had acted illegally and promising not to engage in such activities again."

This is why a fully functioning NLRB is so important.