Time Warner Cable union workers continue to strike in Sunset Park
Frustrated Charter/Spectrum Employees Feel Threatened by a Contractor’s Comments
The strike goes on for the Charter/Spectrum employees who continue to march outside the Time-Warner building in Brooklyn. Since March 28, the employees, represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 3, have been trying to negotiate a new contract. Charter Communications bought Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $55 billion in May 2015 and renamed it Spectrum.
The irresolvable conflict between employment continues to rear its ugly head on the Brooklyn streets of Sunset Park. Both sides have dug their heels into the ground and are refusing to make any concessions. While residents of the neighborhood may not know much about it, it has nonetheless forced politicians to take a stance.
Derek Jordan, business representative for Local Union 3, updated the Brooklyn Eagle, saying, “As of this day, we are still not back at the bargaining table yet. We are receiving more and more support from politicians to pressure the company back to the table. The picketers are still on the lines and we are trying to keep their morale up.”
Jordan also addressed the issue of out of state contractors being brought in by Charter-Spectrum. Some of them have taken to Facebook to challenge the strikers.
“Charter/Spectrum is using out-of-town contractors, and the public should know about the risk involved. One contractor from Texas (working for Charter/Spectrum) has been seen and recorded having confrontations with our members on the picket line and at a warehouse,” said Jordan.
“We understand that this is not his conflict, but in a Facebook post he wrote, ‘Not here for trouble so please don’t come attacking every contractor u see. Me n my homies rolled out here 4 deep, licensed to carry bro.’ Stating that you are ‘licensed to carry’ is not something you should say to people.”
Charter spokesman John Bonomo said the company is sticking by its original statement regarding the strike.
“Spectrum is dedicated to providing great service to our customers and investing in our workforce is a critical part of how we do that. This is why Spectrum is offering our field technicians a pay increase larger than the union has demanded, along with competitive and robust health care and retirement benefits. We believe this greater compensation to be more beneficial to our employees and allows us to grow a well-paid, highly skilled workforce for the benefit of our customers,” said Bonomo.
Regarding the contractor’s Facebook post, Bonomo said, “This individual has not performed work on behalf of the company. He failed a background check. This is something the union has incorrectly been saying on multiple occasions.”
On April 4, Public Advocate Letitia James penned a letter to Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter Communications. “The 1,800 employees represented by IBEW Local 3 have been without a contract since 2013, but up until [March 28] they have continued working in expectation that a contract would be negotiated by new management,” said James. “Just as these workers stayed on the job in good faith, we are calling on Charter to come to the table in good faith to resolve this dispute and do what is right for its employees and its customers.”
The letter was endorsed and signed by 33 councilmembers including Mark Treyger, Carlos Menchaca, Stephen Levin, Brad Lander, Robert Cornegy and Vincent Gentile.
“IBEW Local 3 represents 1,800 employees at Charter Communications/Spectrum,” Gentile told the Eagle. “These hard-working men and women have been working under an expired agreement for a long time.
“At a time when their company is doing better than ever, Charter has refused to bargain in good faith and has attempted to slash benefits by gutting the pensions and medical plans of their employees. If that wasn’t bad enough, employees who advocate for their customers have been targeted and punished. I have always stood with IBEW and I will continue to protest Charter until they come to the table in good faith to do what they know is right.”
On Tuesday, Charter Communications reported the loss of 100,000 TV subscribers in the first quarter, on top of 105,000 in the prior quarter as Time-Warner customers continue to cut their high cost cable subscriptions, preferring to stream movies and shows on Netflix.
With the Charter-Spectrum strike entering its sixth week, a fair resolution would certainly benefit both the union workers and the cable corporation.
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