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.
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.
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.