Will Striking Spectrum Workers Get A City Council Resolution, Too?
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Will Striking Spectrum Workers Get A City Council Resolution, Too?

October 18, 2018

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – This week, Speaker Corey Johnson endorsed a new resolution introduced in the City Council supporting the Building Trades’ ongoing #CountMeIn campaign against “greedy developers” in the construction industry. Which got LaborPress to wondering: should Charter/Spectrum workers striking against similar “corporate greed” for the past 19 months, expect a City Council resolution of their own? 

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tells union families this week: “The City Council has your back.”

“Whatever the City Council could do to help us on strike would be great and appreciated,” striking IBEW Local 3 member Chris Fasulo told LaborPress on Thursday. “It’s been 19 months [on strike]. Middle class families’ lives are being ripped apart by a greedy company that is sitting on record profits.”

Staten Island resident Sanela Djencic’s husband Vedat worked for the cable TV giant for 13 years before joining about 1,800 IBEW other Local 3 members who went on strike last March after Charter/Spectrum moved to slash union pension and benefits packages. 

“Legislation and Laws have to be passed to protect Unions,” the mother of three told LaborPress this week. “We need action. It’s obvious that Spectrum & Related Cos.  are behind the same agenda to union-bust here in NYC. I’m hopeful the City Council, along with the mayor and governor will help settle our ongoing strike.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently made headlines 19 months into IBEW Local 3’s strike against Charter/Spectrum, when he announced that — in a show of union solidarity —he is cancelling his regular guest appearances on NY1, a local news outlet, which Charter Communications now owns. 

It’s been 19 months [on strike]. Middle class families’ lives are being ripped apart by a greedy company that is sitting on record profits. — Striking IBEW Local 3 member Chris Fasulo. 

At Wednesday’s press conference announcing the introduction of a new City Council resolution in support of the #CountMeIn campaign, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus Ben Kallos [D-District 5], said that he will also not be returning to NY1’s studios until the strike with IBEW Local 3 has been settled. 

“At this point, I’m very disappointed in the failure of many companies — including Charter who has contracts with the city which require them to bargain under the law, that are in violation,” the council member told LaborPress. “Not only are they doing wrong by their workers, but they’re not even delivering the cable services and Internet services that they promised.” 

Council Member Rory Lancman [D-Distric 24], represents the community of Electchester — the cooperative housing complex in Queens that IBEW Local 3 and the Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry helped establish 70 years ago. 

On Wednesday, he told LaborPress that it is “extremely, extremely frustrating that Charter has decided, for all  all practical purposes to try to break the union.”

“And we can’t allow that to happen in New York City,” the council member said. “I won’t support an extension of Charter’s Franchise Agreement unless they comply with the terms of the current Franchise Agreement, which requires them to negotiate in good faith with their workforce, and not outsource jobs to non-New York companies. Charter should not expect to be able to do business in New York City at the same time it’s trying to break the labor union representing an important part of its workforce.”

Eddie Rogan’s sons Jake and Shane protest outside Charter HQ last summer.

The punishing 19-month-long strike has, indeed, wreaked havoc on IBEW Local 3 families.

“Families are losing cars & homes, taking on three jobs to stay afloat,” Fasulo said. “Members have kids in college. How can they concentrate on their studies wondering if their parents will be able to pay the next tuition payment?”

With the future of striking IBEW Local 3 families hanging in the balance, Djencic said “it’s now or never” for elected officials to take action. 

“With Bargaining in good faith you give and take. But Spectrum only takes they don’t give — that’s not how it works,” Djencic said. “It’s been 19 months our families are on strike. It’s obvious Spectrum has no regard for workers or NYC. I’m hopeful that the tide will turn and workers will be re-energized by organizers everywhere.”

It’s remains unclear exactly how City Council Speaker Johnson feels about introducing a resolution in support of striking IBEW Local 3 workers. A spokesperson for Johnson told LaborPress in an email that the speaker stands with IBEW Local 3 in their strike against Charter/Spectrum and would never consider crossing a picket line.

On Wednesday, Johnson acknowledged the plight of hard-pressed union families from the steps of City Hall.

“I also have a message for union families: this is a difficult time in the world and in our country if you’re in a union and part of the movement. And just remember, New York City will always be on the side of working people and the Labor Movement. This City Council has your back,” he said. 

Fellow IBEW Local 3 striker and Ronkonkoma father of three, Eddie Rogan told LaborPress on Thursday, that the solidarity both striking Local 3 workers and workers in the #CountMeIn campaign have shown is “symbolic of the hard-working, family-first attitude of this city’s working class.”

October 18, 2018

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