The Correct Way to Characterize the Charter/Spectrum Strike

June 27, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco
Reporter’s Notebook

Spectrum's take backs impact all workers.

New York, NY - The corporate media isn’t doing middle-class workers fighting hard to retain their economic existence any favors when they continually characterize the three-month strike against Charter Communications, first and foremost, as a fight between IBEW Local 3 and the telecom giant. 

This week, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a “first-of-its-kind” report analyzing the city’s economic recovery since the Great Recession of 2008. Among many illuminating, but hardly surprising findings, are data demonstrating that the majority of new jobs gained in the last eight years — 359,000, or 55.7 percent created — were actually in low-wage industries which pay on average, $42,000 a year. 

The comptroller’s report further finds that between 2008 and 2016, low-wage industry jobs constituted 61.5 percent of all the new private sector jobs created in the city. At the same time, those low-wage industries experienced zero wage growth.

Welcome to the recovery. 

During the last eight years, we have seen the systematic dismantling of good paying jobs in favor of low-wage positions that tear at the heart of the American middle-class and make attainment of “The American Dream” a cruel impossibility. 

With the strike against Charter Communications, parent company of Cable TV, Internet and Voice provider Spectrum, we are seeing the continued destruction of good paying jobs play out in ruthless real time. 

“It's hard to imagine a group of men and women who work harder than those of IBEW Local 3,” Stringer recently said in response to Charter’s claims that it is offering striking workers a generous compensation package.

Stringer continued, “Their contributions help keep our city running, and they deserve a fair shake. These jobs support working people, and when we stand up for them, our city wins. That’s why I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with IBEW Local 3 members in their fight for fairness.”

Rallying outside Spectrum HQ.

But instead of reaching an agreement that halts the continued deterioration of good paying, family-sustaining jobs, Charter Communications is intent on rolling its huge profit margins into astronomical compensations packages for its multi-millionaire executives. 

Earlier this month, the telecom giant drew fierce criticism from New York City government for hiring out-of-state contractors — a nice term for scabs — to help break the backs of working people. Never mind that doing so, violates Charter Communications’ franchise agreement with New York City, or that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is already suing Charter over fraudulent Internet speed promises. 

Characterizing the approximately 1,800 Spectrum workers striking to hang on to hard-fought wages, pensions and healthcare as members of this or that union effectively puts them in a silo far-removed from the rest of the American middle-class. When in reality, striking Spectrum field techs represent a much greater American middle-class that is being mercilessly hammed out of existence. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio rightly characterized striking IBEW 3 workers as “working people who are trying to make ends meet.” 

Their fight is the same fight as working people everywhere -- union and non-union alike. 


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