Building Trades, Entertainment, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

Candidates For Public Advocate Allow NY1 Debate Moderators To Skate Past 2-Year-Old Spectrum Strike

February 22, 2019

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – Seven candidates running for the office of New York City public advocate had another chance to call out Charter Communication’s refusal to reach a deal with striking Spectrum workers during a NY1 debate broadcast Wednesday night — they all came up short. 

NYC trade unionist rally in support of Charter/Spectrum headquarters late last year in support of striking IBEW Local 3 workers.

Out of all the candidates taking part in the often acrimonious 90-minute showdown, only three of the hopefuls angling to take next Tuesday’s special election even alluded to Spectrum workers — let alone IBEW Local 3’s nearly 24-month-old struggle with Charter Communications to retain union pensions and healthcare packages. 

Journalist and activist Nomiki Konst, New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake and New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams each expressed solidarity for “Spectrum workers” at the top of their opening statements. 

But that was it. None of the candidates vying to become New York City’s next public advocate — a plumb position that has come to be seen as a launching pad for the mayor’s office — pressed NY1’s trio of moderators to talk about the strike, its implications or the punishing affect its had on hundreds of striking union households. 

On Thursday afternoon, following a rally against Amazon’s new warehouse slated for Woodside, Queens, New York State Assembly Member and NYC public advocate candidate Ron Kim expressed regret that he had not, at least, expressed support for striking Spectrum workers — saying that, like Amazon, Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, is “another monopoly that needs to be held accountable.” 

“For the last four months I’ve been micro-focused on Amazon,”  Kim told LaborPress. “As you know, it’s $3 billion that they’re trying to extort from us. But now, that that fight is closing down, we need to focus on other abusive companies like Spectrum. And I plan on attacking that issue as public advocate.”

For the last four months I’ve been micro-focused on Amazon. As you know, it’s $3 billion that they’re trying to extort from us. But now, that that fight is closing down, we need to focus on other abusive companies like Spectrum. And I plan on attacking that issue as public advocate. — NYS Assembly Member Ron Kim.

For many striking Spectrum workers who have lost homes, cars and marriages over the last 24-months — just being on Charter’s corporate stage was an affront to all those struggling to hold onto their small piece of the American Dream. 

“Voting your option on our strike does not excuse any of them being on stage, I’m sorry. Crossing our picket line does not excuse their stupidity,” IBEW Local 3’s Richard Shabman said in a Tweet. 

Union workers rallying outside Spectrum offices last year decry unchecked corporate greed.

Striking Spectrum worker Chris Fasulo Tweeted, “It’s a disservice to NYC. This position is supposed to be the voice of the people. Workers and customers are bing abused. Many striking members have passed away walking the picket line and many customers lives are in danger because of poor service. Who will hold this company accountable?” 

Clearly, it probably won’t be the Public Service Commission [PSC], the de Blasio administration or the State Attorney General’s Office. After rescinding its approval of Charter Communication’s original takeover of Time-Warner Cable and ordering the telecom giant out of the state, the PSC, earlier this month, granted the trouble-plagued conglomerate yet another extension, on the way to tossing out the whole challenge entirely. 

The NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications [DoITT] conducted two audits of Charter’s Franchise Agreement with the city and found them in default, but who’s quibbling? 

Charter even took care of its issues with the AG’s office last December, settling a consumer fraud lawsuit filed the previous year, for $174.2 Million. 

During Wednesday night’s public advocate debate, NY1 moderators quizzed the candidates on a variety of issues including, Amazon HQ2, AirBnB, homelessness, Marijuana, and free college tuition — as well as probing the candidates if they own or rent their home, had ever attended a gay wedding, gotten a speeding ticket and where they spent their last vacation. 

Konst later told LaborPress, “Despite trying, Spectrum couldn’t erase their labor issues during the NY1 debate. The Public Advocate is there to fight for the working people of NY — even when you’re up against corporate establishment. More leaders need to call out exploitative companies when they have a platform to do so.” 

Editor’s Note: LaborPress also reached out to Assembly Member Blake and Council Member Williams. We will include their comments should they become available. 

February 22, 2019

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Candidates For Public Advocate Allow NY1 Debate Moderators To Skate Past 2-Year-Old Spectrum Strike”

  1. Bill says:

    Do these strikers still have benefits? If not, why are they fighting for their union hall who doesn’t care about them and their families? These pool people were lead down a road that didn’t work out so their benefits were taken away meanwhile, the union still has theirs.

    The Union should have found a way to continue the benefits for these guys and their children since they screwed up.

    • Juan says:

      Ask the question and wait for the answer before you go into a rant. Yes the union did provide benefits, Jobs, pension and all of the above. Those who continued to fight the Union placed them all to work with everything intact. I never understood why people always say dumb things like “ why don’t the strikers fight against their Union.” Lets see the Union has been around for more then 100 years and Spectrum for only 5 years. Somehow people seem to think that it’s the Union fault and they all went bonkers. The proof is in front of your freaking eyes !!! Why even ask a question like that ? The past 45 years the union has successful negotiated contracts with past companies with a give and take approach. Now since Charter/Spectrum bought out TWC their approach was to take it or leave it. That’s not how one negotiates !

      • Trinny jr says:

        That’s a lie because a foreman in M div was told he was no longer needed. How much longer do u think local 3 is going to take care of U? Scabs who ran back think everything is fine and dandy watch what happens down the road. They are in for a big shock .
        What diff does it make if spectrum only here 5 years, they in bed w/ every nyc slimy politician u have no idea how the world works. We are long past Hoffas day. Sadly, IBEW will continue to give Letisha James/deBlasio/Cuomo donations even though they did jack for you. Make sense?

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