By Naeisha Rose
Dozens of people were outside City Hall last week to condemn Charter Communications, a cable company that also goes by the name of Spectrum, to mark the one-year anniversary when many of the multibillion-dollar corporation’s employees went on strike.
After Charter acquired Time Warner Cable in 2016, the $41.6 billion company proposed eliminating the benefits of its union employees, according to Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans,), the elected official who represents many of the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 3) in Queens.
“Roughly 10 percent of the more than 1,800 Spectrum workers represented by Local 3 live in southeast Queens,” said Miller, chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee. “These skilled women and men have suffered 12 grueling months out of work because Spectrum values its billions of dollars in profits over the long term security of its workers and their families.”
He took part in the March 28 rally at City Hall attended by other council members, including Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest).
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge received over $98 million in 2016, while in that same year the company planned to eliminate Local 3’s pension plan, slash health benefits by more than half and insisted that its members pay monthly premiums out-of-pocket, according to Miller’s office.
Local 3 filed a complaint against Charter. The company could default on its franchise agreement with the city if an audit by the Department of Information Technology & Communications finds out the organization was hiring out-of-city contractors during the strike.
“We won’t tolerate its union busting efforts and stubborn refusal to come to the table any longer, and vow to take aim at its prized Franchise Agreement with the City,” Miller said.
Miller and Local 3 were not alone in their fight.
“What is clear is that Charter cares more about its own bottom line than the well-being of its workers,” Lancman said.“I will continue to fight to ensure Local 3 receives a fair contract and that Charter is held accountable for any violation of the Franchise Agreement.”
In a statement Spectrum spokesman John Bonomo said that the company is focusing on best serving their customers.
“Our dedicated team of NYC employees is working hard every day to deliver the best TV, internet and voice experience to Spectrum customers,” he said. “We continue to meet customer demands for installation and repair work, and we’re also investing in even better Spectrum services, including increasing our starting internet speed to 200 Mbps and offering gigabit connections to NYC residents.”
Local 3 also received support from Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), and Councilman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst).
The Queens Library Guild and the New York City Central Labor Council also supported Local 3.
“These workers are standing strong and the New York City Labor Movement stands with them, the members of IBEW Local 3, to see they are given the contract they deserve,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of Central Labor Council.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose