It’s been more than 18 months since a group of Charter Spectrum NYC-based workers and members of IBEW Local 3 went on strike, and it doesn’t feel like a resolution is near.
Both sides have been outspoken, with Charter posting a blog Wednesday that it described as the “truth” about its attempts to end the talks. The union resumed picketing at various NYC locations this week and hosted a rally Wednesday on East 23rd Street alongside NY Gov Andrew Cuomo. Talks between the two sides appear to have broken down last week.
“What Charter Spectrum has done is a gross injustice… How dare you abuse the hard-working men and women that built that company and put the money in your pocket,” Cuomo shouted from the podium Wednesday. He also touched on NY PSC’s decision to rescind its order approving Time Warner Cable’s purchase. “Charter lied to the people of NY… They got a franchise agreement from the state and they promised to do certain things. They promised to keep the customer friendly workforce that was trained and they turned around and kicked you to the street. They promised to serve underserved households. And the state of NY… wants to fine them $20mln for violating that agreement,” Cuomo said as the crowd gathered chanted “kick them out.”
Charter was recently granted another extension to present a plan to exit the state, with the MSO and PSC staff revealing they’ve established a framework for a possible settlement agreement. The operator disagrees with the state over whether it has met buildout requirements and other conditions of the Time Warner Cable acquisition.
The labor dispute caused NYC mayor Bill de Blasio to cancel his regular appearance on Charter-owned NY1 this week and some guests scheduled to appear on its “Inside City Hall” Tuesday night also declined to cross the picket line Tuesday. Charter maintains that it has made “substantial” concessions, including continuing to fund the union’s medical and benefit plan and allowing many strikers to come back to work.
“While Charter still believes that the [union’s medical and benefits plan] is not in the best interests of our employees and diverts money from wages to support less ideal benefits than the wages and benefits Charter provides, we made this concession in an effort to end the strike,” read Charter’s blog post. “In addition, Charter also agreed to bring back on an expedited basis and make eligible for the [benefit plan] an agreed to number of employees. Other employees would also be able to return over time through priority reinstatement.”
Charter added that during this dispute it has settled collective bargaining agreements with unions representing employees in Hawaii, with the union in the Aloha State accepting terms similar to those rejected by Local 3. The dispute’s impact has stretched beyond Charter, with the city’s Department of Information and IT & Telecommunications informing franchise-holders in the city this week that it will consider the state of labor relations going forward when assessing whether to grant or renew a franchise agreement.
Asked about the change in regards to the franchise process, a Charter spokesperson said “the quality of service Charter is delivering to New York City customers is at an all-time high. Charter continues to meet its franchise obligations and we will address franchise renewal at the appropriate time.”