Continuing a fight that began nearly a year ago, the Communications Workers of America, in support of the Brooklyn Cablevision workers ongoing efforts to unionize, released a report yesterday titled “Leaving Brooklyn Behind”, which aims to demonstrate that Cablevision is delivering poor service to customers in Brooklyn.
The report, which included a survey of over 700 Brooklyn Cablevision customers, showed that nearly 25 percent of customers rate their service as “poor” or “terrible”, and only 37 percent rated it favorably. Nearly 90 percent of Brooklyn customers considered Cablevision costs too high for the services provided. Additionally, the report includes photographs of faulty equipment throughout Brooklyn, including low hanging wires and improperly repaired wires, which can result in stray voltage and can be considered a fire hazard.
The Brooklyn Cablevision workers believe this disparity in service stems from an ongoing battle with Cablevision over their attempts to unionize and join the CWA, which has lent its support to the workers in a contentious public campaign that has included leafleting venues owned by Cablevision CEO James Dolan and today’s rally in front of City Hall. Dolan is at the center of the battle himself as, according to accounts from Cablevision workers in the Bronx, the CEO appeared at a company garage in the Bronx and informed workers who were considering unionizing in the borough that Cablevision would be left behind in regard to new technology and investments if they did. In June, the Bronx workers voted 123-41 against joining the CWA union.
“That was a threat and it appears he’s making good on that threat because Brooklyn indeed appears to be left behind,” said Pete Sikora, a research economist with CWA.
The CWA responded to Dolan’s threat by filing an Unfair Labor Practice claims with the National Labor Review Board. The union has filed additional ULP complaints since then, including one after the company forced workers to remove pro-union magnets off of company vans.
“We’re confident that the NLRB will see that Cablevision is acting in a way to harass and intimidate their workers in a way that’s a violation of their workers rights,” Sikora said.
For their part, Cablevision filed a lawsuit against the CWA last week, claiming the union made false and defamatory statements about the company. In a statement, a Cablevision spokesperson indicated that the report released by the Brooklyn workers was a direct response to the lawsuit.
“This phony report is just another example of the CWA union making false and defamatory statements about Cablevision, and attempting to mislead the public through deceptive and illegal tactics, which is why we are suing them,” a Cablevision spokesperson said. “Given Cablevision’s long history of local investments and job creation in Brooklyn and across the tri-state region, it is unfortunate that public officials would involve themselves in the CWA union’s obvious and desperate campaign against our company.”
In the lawsuit, Cablevision attorneys write that the workers’ actions against the company, “have already succeeded in undermining…Cablevision’s reputation with elected officials.” The Brooklyn workers have previously met with and received support from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller John Liu and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. De Blasio attended the press conference announcing the release of the workers’ report and also penned a letter to Dolan, writing that the surveys “raise troubling questions as to whether Cablevision is adequately serving customers in all five boroughs equally.”
De Blasio also requested information from the company on how they monitor internet speeds across the five boroughs and measure customer satisfaction, among other inquiries.
Cablevision did not respond directly as to whether they would honor de Blasio’s request. In their lawsuit against the CWA, the company claims that in their statements the union cites outdated reports on the company’s internet speeds, and employs a website that they say is not a reliable tester of Cablevision internet speeds.
Despite the continued tension, both parties continue their attempts to come to a compromise, even meeting yesterday for a negotiating session. Neither side indicated that there was any progress made.
A previous version of this article stated that the Brooklyn Cablevision workers issued the report, when technically the Communications Workers of America released it on behalf of the workers.
Tags: Brooklyn Cablevision employees, Cablevision, City Comptroller John Liu, Communications Workers of America, James Dolan, Marty Markowitz, National Labor Review Board, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, union workers