Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Representing the 8th District of New York

NYDN: Cablevision Brings Back 22 Employees Who Groused Over Stalled Contract Talks

Mar 26, 2013
In The News

Cablevision worker Clarence Adams said he was happy to be rehired but stressed the fight for a new contract with better wages and benefits would go on.

Cablevision has rehired 22 employees who were canned after demanding to meet with bosses to discuss stalled contract talks.

The workers had become a cause celeb for local labor leaders and the Democratic mayoral hopefuls, who joined them at rallies.

Cablevision technician, Clarence Adams, 37, said he was happy to be back on the job, but vowed to continue fighting for better wages and benefits.

"I've invested way too much time in Cablevision to start all over," the former marine reservist said. "We didn't do anything wrong. We just want fair pay and benefits just like our coworkers in the Bronx and Long Island."

Adams, who grew up in Brownsville and began working for the cable giant 14 years ago, he was inspired to join the union after watching his senior colleagues get kicked to the curb after years on the job.

"One of the things I noticed is that working outdoors [climbing poles] you put your health on the line," he said. "I'd watch guys with 16 or 17 years on the job get dismissed because they were no longer able to do what they did when they first started."

Last year, Adams and 281 of his Brooklyn colleagues overwhelmingly voted to join the Communications Workers of America.

But they've struggled to negotiate a new contract.

Many of the technicians who contract with Cablevision do not receive health benefits and are paid on a sliding scale based on each call, with some earning as low as $20,000 a year, according to union officials.

A congressional labor committee on Monday highlighted their plight, citing it as a case study on problems in negotiating first contracts after workers organize a union.

"The right to organize without obstruction is an essential element of federal labor law," said congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).

A Cablevision spokeswoman said the employees were rehired as positions became available.

"Under company policy and established labor law provisions, as openings occurred, we began bringing our employees back within days of their being replaced. Since January, all of the workers have now returned to Cablevision," said spokeswoman Sarah Chaikin.

She noted a group of employees have petitioned the national labor board to decertify but that vote has been put on hold pending several unfair labor practice complaints. "We believe their voices should be heard,” said Chaiken.