Features, Law and Politics, New York, Retail

Brooklyn’s Message To Striking Spectrum Workers: You Can Win, Too!

September 6, 2018

By Joe Maniscalco

Brooklyn, NY – You can still win. 

That’s the message CWA District 1 Organizing Coordinator Tim Dubnau and his members have for striking Charter/Spectrum workers with IBEW Local 3 who’ve been without their jobs for a punishing year-and-a-half. 

After beating back efforts to decertify their union, Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn are telling Charter/Spectrum strikers they can win, too.

“Hopefully, our brothers and sisters at Spectrum realize that you can have these strikes that go on for a long time, but that doesn’t mean you’re losing — you could still win,” Dubnau told LaborPress this week. 

CWA members working at Verizon Wireless stores in Brooklyn successfully organized in 2014, joined a winning strike in 2016, and two weeks ago, beat back the telecom giant’s all-out efforts to decertify the union. 

On March 28, 2017, roughly 1,800 IBEW Local 3 members went on strike against Charter/Spectrum in a bid to preserve threatened pension benefits and health plans. 

Since then, the New York State attorney general has filed suit against the company charging it with fraud, while the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications [DoITT] launched two separate audits of its Franchise Agreement with the city, and the New York State Public Service Commission [PSC] rescinded its approval of the company’s 2016 takeover of Time-Warner Cable. 

Somewhere in the midst of all that, the process of decertifying Local 3 was initiated, although striking workers insist Charter/Spectrum managers engineered the whole thing.

“My advice [to Spectrum workers] would be to stick together and communicate with one another,” Verizon Wireless employee Jazmin Warthen-Sypher told LaborPress. “The company is going to do its best to tear you apart but that’s why communication is so important. We would text back and forth, we had a group chat and we would call each other to stay strong.”

“The company is going to do its best to tear you apart but that’s why communication is so important. We would text back and forth, we had a group chat and we would call each other to stay strong.” — Verizon Wireless worker Jazmin Warthen-Sypher

Verizon Workers in five separate stores around Brooklyn were able to overcome efforts to decertify their union even though existing labor law is wildly tilted in favor of the bosses.

“Labor law is totally stacked against working people,” Dubnau said. “The company pays you 40-hours-a-week to go to work — and for 40-hours-a-week they can force you to sit through their anti-union propaganda: PowerPoint and slides; pull you in for one-on-ones; Grill you; threaten you.”

Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn not only scored a huge victory for themselves, they also blew apart the company’s efforts to launch decertification efforts elsewhere because they can no longer claim “workers in Brooklyn didn’t want the union.” 

“Verizon has done a very good job of instilling fear and misinformation out there across the country — but we’re chipping away at that,” Dubnau said. “The company’s entire anti-union campaign around the country — the foundation is, ‘people in Brooklyn made a mistake, they’re about to kick their union out.’ And now, it’s not true.”

Striking Charter/Spectrum worker Chris Fasulo realizes that the rest of the nation is also watching and waiting to see how IBEW Local 3’s fight ultimately plays out. 

“It’s hard to beat a decertification especially when the company is cheating and trying to circumvent labor laws,” he told LaborPress.  “We should take any advice CWA can give us and if they have a winning strategy we should take it and implement it ourselves — 1800 families’ way of life is on the line.  Workers all across the country need a win here in New York.”

September 6, 2018

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