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Nov
2014
13

Remote Controlling: Cablevision Again Rebuffed by NLRB for Blatant Anti-Union Rights Violations

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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is charging that Cablevision and its CEO, James Dolan, illegally threatened to withhold employees’ raises unless they voted to decertify their union.  The NLRB has also ruled that Cablevision is bargaining in bad faith and that a poll conducted by the Honest Ballot Association at Dolan’s behest following a meeting with the workers on September 9th violated labor law.

The non-binding poll asked the technicians if they wanted to remain with the union.  The Honest Ballot Association reported the results of the poll as 115 in favor of remaining with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and 129 opposed.

From the New York Times:

The N.L.R.B.’s Brooklyn regional director, James G. Paulsen, said the poll unlawfully interfered with the union’s ability to represent the Brooklyn technicians, especially when, according to the board, Cablevision had not bargained in good faith and company officials had illegally promised individual workers better benefits and working conditions if they voted to oust the union.

Typically under federal law, workers can only vote to decertify or quit a union through a vote conducted by the labor board. Cablevision workers have petitioned it to hold a decertification vote, but the agency has said such a vote would be unfair when the company has been charged with numerous labor violations.

The CWA lauded the NLRB’s decision.  Chris Shelton, President of CWA District 1, said:

“It’s time for public officials to make clear to James Dolan that just because he’s a billionaire, he doesn’t get to supersede the law or trample on workers’ rights. Brooklyn Cablevision workers deserve equal pay, the respect of having their federally protected labor rights honored, and a fair contract.”

In a statement following the NLRB’s decision, Cablevision said:

“We are outraged but not surprised by the one-sided finding,” from the board. The company added, “The N.L.R.B. regional office led by Director Paulsen should be serving as a trusted government body with an open mind, but instead acts to advance the C.W.A.’s agenda.”

It’s been over three years since the technicians voted to join the CWA and so far there has been little progress in terms of reaching a contract.  During that time, however, Cablevision workers unaffiliated with the CWA have received raises between $2 and $9 an hour.  The CWA claims Cablevision attempted to undermine collective bargaining by conducting the dubious poll. Some union members also complained to the NLRB that they felt they were being spied on during the poll, which influenced their vote.

This is not the first time the NLRB has investigated Cablevision concerning this group of Brooklyn technicians.  In April of 2013 the board investigated the terminations of 22 Brooklyn workers. Around the same time, a shop in the Bronx complained to the NLRB that they were being intimidated and harassed.  Rulings in both cases are expected soon from an administrative judge.

The New York City Council has shown strong support for the technicians and the CWA.  42 of its 51 members wrote to the commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to express concern over the numerous NLRB charges against the company.  The council is coming out in force against Cablevision in an attempt to get them to bargain with the affected workers.  Last month, the council voted to block Cablevision from performing work on a public wi-fi project it had not even bid on.

Cablevision has until November 20th to respond to the NLRB’s claims.  The parties are scheduled to appear before an administrative law judge in Brooklyn on January 6th.  

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