Cablevision CEO’s Threats Prompt NLRB Complaint

By Mike Elk

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

Last June, Cablevision workers in the Bronx voted against joining the Communications Workers of America by a landslide, with 43 workers voting in favor of unionization and 121 workers voting against it. Now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says that it plans to file a complaint against Cablevision, accusing the company of engaging in illegal conduct in the lead-up to the election. Continue reading

25 Cablevision Union Members Fired During Confrontation with Management

by Mike Elk

An  encounter between workers and management ended in 25 firings. (CWA)

An encounter between workers and management ended in 25 firings. (CWA)

(Feb 1) Around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning (January 30), four dozen unionized Cablevision workers gathered outside of an executive’s door in the company’s Brooklyn office and demanded to speak to him, citing Cablevision’s “open door” policy. The workers, who voted to join Communication Workers of America (CWA) over a year ago, were upset over how contract negotiations were going—they felt that Cablevision was not addressing union concerns about pay, benefits, pensions and job security. An hour later, says CWA, the still-waiting workers were shocked to be informed by management that 25 of them were to be fired.

CWA believes that the firings were illegal retaliation, noting that the 25 workers were all key union leaders within the workplace.
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Organizing Wildfire and Wildcat Strikes Spread Among Cablevision Workers

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

After nearly two decades of Cablevision workers attempting to organize in New York City, it suddenly appears that they’re meeting success. This story perhaps precipitates a broader trend about how, given the hope of the Wisconsin Uprising and Occupy Wall Street, workers are reinvigorated to fight back against slashed wages and poor working conditions.

In January of this year, in a campaign involving a massive training of shop stewards, political support from elected New York City officials, and community outreach with groups like Occupy Wall Street, 282 Brooklyn-based Cablevision workers voted to unionize with CWA (for more on the dynamics of this incredible campaign, read my story here). Then a group of 120 from the Bronx—employed by Corbel, a Cablevision subcontractor—went out on a wildcat strike to protest cut wages. Last month, those Corbel workers voted to join the IBEW.

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4 Recent Victories Signal Hard Truth About Rebuilding Labor Movement

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

For the first time in my journalism career, during one week I wrote four stories about workers winning tough fights. The victories include GE and Cablevision workers unionizing after several failed organizing attempts, the end of the bloody Longview Port longshoremen dispute and the State Department issuing new rules governing student guest workers after last summer’s strike by young Hershey foreign workers.

This extraordinarily rare string of victories leads me to believe that despite major attacks on workers’ organizing and collective bargaining rights, unions can take advantage of workers’ backlash against these attacks and win big victories. They can still organize.

This is not to say the tide is turning for labor because of the overreach of anti-union forces. During the same period of these small but significant victories for workers, others suffered a number of large defeats. Indiana passed right-to-work legislation aimed at gutting the power of private-sector unions, and Senate Democrats passed a bill rolling back the organizing rights of airline and rail workers.

But the key lesson of these these small victories is this: When workers develop individual strategies for their own workplace—rather than rely on gran master plans from union leaders—they’re more likely to win. It’s to study the GE, Cablevision and the the longshoremen union (ILWU) campaign in Longview to understand what works.

In one of the smartest union campaigns I have ever covered, the Communication Workers of America organized 282 Cablevision workers in Brooklyn that had been trying to organize into a union for 13 years. CWA first built a strong shop floor committee to build solidarity in the workplace before even attempting to file for an election.

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