CWA activists, members and supporters were out in force at the Cablevision-Optimum annual meeting today in Bethpage, N.Y., spotlighting the fight for a fair contract for nearly 300 members of CWA Local 1109. Inside the meeting, CWA activists raised questions about the company's fight against workers who just want a fair contract, questions that CEO John Dolan refused to answer, said Chris Calabrese, executive vice president of Local 1109. "CEO John Dolan was arrogant and dismissive even though the questioners were shareholders and had the right to attend and raise important issues. He even called the police to have them thrown out of the meeting and arrested," he said.
Cablevision workers remain energized and motivated, no matter what. Because of a tremendous community and public support campaign, 22 workers who were illegally fired and locked out earlier this year are back at work, a huge victory. This group is strong, Calabrese said. "Our bargaining team is strong too. But we're not going to settle for less while other Cablevision workers have gotten big wage increases," he said.
The bargaining committee had been meeting for several days in Washington, D.C., in negotiations with Cablevision-Optimum led by George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. While significant progress was made, those talks stalled this week as Cablevision refused to negotiate a fair wage rate for the Brooklyn workers, one that would be commensurate with what other Cablevision technicians and employees earn.
Community groups and elected officials throughout the New York City region are standing strong with the Cablevision workers and are ready to continue the fight, Calabrese said. Recently, the City Council held a hearing on whether Cablevision-Optimum's anti-worker campaign had violated its franchise agreement with the City of New York, and major Democratic mayoral candidates and other leaders joined rallies and demonstrations to push Cablevision to do the right thing.
In today's Wall Street Journal, CEO Dolan said that he looked forward to a pending NLRB hearing. That's a far cry from his remarks during recent bargaining, when Cablevision said it would file a legal motion to block two National Labor Relations Board complaints that charged Cablevision with multiple violations of the law.
Cablevision claims that the directors of two NLRB regions have no standing because the appeals court rules that all of President Obama's recess appointments and two NLRB members in particular were not constitutional. This decision is preposterous since it would mean that more than 100 recess appointments by Presidents Obama and Bush, and their decisions, would be thrown out. CWA is calling on the Senate to "Give Us Five" and confirm a package of five nominations to the NLRB so that 80 million private sector workers won't lose the protections of labor law.