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Photo by William Alatriste

At 2pm today, the New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will held a hearing entitled, “Oversight – Cablevision Franchise Agreement and Collective Bargaining”. As the City Council is central to approving franchises, the committee will serve to evaluate the qualifications of the Cablevision Systems Corporation to participate in contracts with the City of New York. The City currently requires that its franchisees must recognize the right of “employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing”.

Yet reports have persisted regarding bad labor practices at various Cablevision locations, including a well-documented incident earlier this year where a Brooklyn-based employee and active member of CWA 1180 named Jerome Thompson was fired for voicing his displeasure regarding management’s treatment of employees.

Over the last twenty months the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued complaints against Cablevision on multiple issues, Mr. Thompson’s case included, all relating to anti-union activities. Other instances include holding an illegal union decertification vote, bad faith bargaining through unnecessary delays, and seeking to undermine unionization votes.

In advance of today’s subcommittee hearing, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council issued the following statement:

Collective bargaining has been an essential instrument in promoting the advancement of the American worker. Yet repeatedly, it appears that Cablevision refuses to come to the table and bargain with the duly elected representatives of the workforce they employ.

In particular, CWA 1180 has repeatedly attempted to engage the corporation in negotiations regarding their Brooklyn-based tech workers over the past three years. Yet, Cablevision management has sought only to delay talks in an attempt to frustrate workers. Most recently, the corporation even held an illegal vote of those within the Brooklyn shop in an attempt to decertify their union representation.

While Cablevision has afforded 14% compensation increases to other tech workers under its employment, it has excluded the Brooklyn workers from this enhancement. The corporation instead seeks to trade disciplinary rights for monetary compensation with the unionized workers, failing to understand that freedom of speech and due process are already constitutionally protected. The notion that one could trade these rights for compensation and benefits is completely invalid.

Given their history, it appears as if the strategy Cablevision is attempting to pursue is one to disturb, disrupt, and disassemble the power of collective bargaining. If so, then action must be taken to ensure that our City does not illegally engage in contracts with this employer. Here in New York City we value workers and those who refuse to bargain with them do not deserve our business.

While today’s hearing will be a step towards determining the worthiness of Cablevision to participate in our franchising process, a breach of federal labor laws will ultimately require action from the NLRB. With that in mind, we look forward to learning more from the upcoming judgments on the Board’s complaints against Cablevision.

The Progressive Caucus includes four sitting members of the nine-member Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, including Co-chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards and Council Members Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres.

As well as:

Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair, Civil Service and Labor Committee

Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Caucus Vice-chair for Budget

Council Member Ben Kallos, Caucus Vice-chair for Policy

Council Member Margaret Chin, Caucus Treasurer

Council Member Corey Johnson, District 3

Council Member Mark Levine, District 7

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, District 10

Council Member Stephen Levin, District 33

Council Member Brad Lander, District 39

Council Member Debi Rose, District 49

Council Member Carlos Menchaca, District 38

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, District 26 


NY Observer: Progressive Caucus batters Cablevision lawyer in insult-filled hearing

NY Post: Cablevision battle spills into City Hall 

NY Daily News: Cablevision, Council Members clash at heated hearing 

Capital NY: Council Members, Cablevision reps clash during hearing 

Fierce Cable: NY City Council meets Tuesday about possible Cablevision franchise violations


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