Charter Boycott Back On After Negotiations To End 20-Month-Old Strike Break Down
Building Trades, Features, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York, Retail

Charter Boycott Back On After Negotiations To End 20-Month-Old Strike Break Down

December 4, 2018

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – Striking Charter/Spectrum workers, on Monday, resumed their Governor Cuomo-backed boycott of NY1 and other corporate-run cable-TV channels following the breakdown of negotiations that could have finally ended IBEW Local 3’s nearly two-year standoff with the multi-billion-dollar telecom giant. 

Trade unionists picket outside NY1’s Spectrum studios on 9th Avenue.

Representatives from numerous other labor unions including Laborers Local 79, Unite Here Local 100 and the Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign, all joined striking IBEW Local 3 members picketing outside NY1’s  Chelsea Market studios this week. 

“There was some movement on certain issues [Charter/Spectrum] said they wouldn’t move on — but at the end of the day the company wasn’t willing to go forward on Friday. And, again, they walked out on us,” IBEW Local 3 Business Representative Derek Jordan told LaborPress. 

As many as 1,800 Charter/Spectrum employees went on strike way back on March 28, 2017, after the company, following its purchase of Time-Warner Cable, moved to gut union pension plans and health care packages. 

The nearly two-year-long job action has cost striking families heavily. Some have not survived intact, while hundreds of other hard-pressed strikers have opted to return to work. 

Charter Communications, which has since been sued for fraud by the NYS Attorney General’s Office, had support for its purchase of Time-Warner Cable withdrawn by the New York Public Service Commission and found to be in default of its Franchise Agreement with the City of New York — insists that over the last 20-months of the strike it has engaged in good faith bargaining with IBEW Local 3. 

IBEW Local 3 Business Representative Derek Jordan with fellow trade unionists.

In an email, corporate spokesperson John Bonomo told LaborPress that it is “incorrect to assert that Charter walked out on negotiations on Friday.”

“Rather, and more accurately, the union did not accept our latest offer,” Bonomo said. 

Moreover, the Charter spokesperson says the corporation has operated its business “virtually transparently to our customers” and has “adjusted our offers over time and provided many options on many issues.”

Charter previously released a statement arguing that despite its “best efforts and numerous offers, the union continues to block an agreement.” The corporation also says it has offered significant concessions to end the strike including addressing the union’s two biggest concerns, bringing many strikers back and making payments into the union’s benefits plan.”

Jordan, however, told LaborPress that “issues involving the treatment of workers,” as well as efforts to decertify the union also remain outstanding.

“[Charter] did walk away from an opportunity to resolve this strike,” Jordan maintained. 

If we allow corporations like [Charter]/Spectrum to bully their way through legislation and throw their money around and get to a place where they can replace 1,800 workers who, for the most part, haven’t been able to provide for their families since they’ve been on strike — then we might as well pack it in. — Bernard Callegari, Laborers Local 79

On Monday, Governor Cuomo tweeted his support of IBEW Local 3 strikers saying, “I proudly join my brothers and sisters in the labor movement and will honor the boycott of Spectrum until there is a resolution to this situation that gives Local 3 members and their families a deal they deserve.”

Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service union in the nation, said “Spectrum’s workers have been on strike for more than 20 months, and just as a resolution was imminent, Spectrum abruptly ended negotiations.”

“We strongly support IBEW Local 3 in their fight for dignity and ask all New Yorkers to stand in solidarity with these hardworking men and women and their families,” the 32BJ leader said in a statement. 

Laborers Local 79 member and #CountMeIn organizer Bernard Callegari walked alongside other trade unionists outside NY1’s studios vowing solidarity with Local 3.

Trade unionists see the ongoing strike against Charter Communications as a fight for the entire middle class.

“If we allow corporations like [Charter]/Spectrum to bully their way through legislation and throw their money around and get to a place where they can replace 1,800 workers who, for the most part, haven’t been able to provide for their families since they’ve been on strike — then we might as well pack it in,” he said. “And that’s why you can see there are a lot of other union representation at this picket line/rally because there’s a certain air of solidarity that is happening amongst the building trades that I, myself, have not seen in a very long time.”

The Building Trades’ yearlong #CountMeIn campaign against so-called “open shop” development and the exploitation of non-union workers at Related Cos’ Hudson Yards development has, itself, enjoyed the support of many striking Spectrum workers. 

“Related’s going down, Spectrum’s going down, and we’re going to take back New York City,” Callegari said.  “New York City is a union town.”

December 4, 2018

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