Both Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are claiming victory after an administrative law judge issued a 291-page recommendation to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) late Thursday regarding their dispute.
Cablevision executives say the complaint against it is a cynical attempt by the CWA to block a vote among the MSO's Brooklyn tech workers on whether to recertify their union representation. Cablevision lauded judge Steven Fish's ruling, which found insufficient evidence to support a key charge in the NLRB, that Cablevision was guilty of "surface bargaining."
"I do not find sufficient evidence that any of the unfair labor practices that I have found had any substantial impact on the bargaining, and I conclude that an extension of the certification year is not warranted," Fish wrote.
"Obviously, we are gratified that the CWA's baseless charges that blocked an employee vote have been rejected by an NLRB judge, but unfortunately this does not clear the way for Cablevision employees in Brooklyn to vote for or against the CWA," a Cablevision statement reads. "Instead, the CWA and the NLRB have continued to use baseless charges simply designed to prevent Cablevision employees from voting. In light of the decision, we call on the NLRB and the CWA to finally cease their efforts to block the vote that Brooklyn employees have twice petitioned for the right to hold."
Cablevision added: "In addition, we strongly disagree with several lesser findings that have no impact on a prospective Brooklyn employee vote, and we look forward to being vindicated as the NLRB and court process continues."
For its part, CWA used those "lesser charges" as the basis for declaring victory. For example, Judge Fish ruled that 22 Cablevision employees fired in January 2013 should receive back pay.
"Finally, the NLRB has spoken in an unprecedented 300-page decision that outlines the deliberate law breaking of James Dolan. In any other jurisdiction, he would face arrest," said Larry Cohen, president of the CWA, in a statement.
Cablevision may have indeed won this battle, as it claims. But its image in the larger court of public opinion might not be helped by the release of internal memos and transcripts, including CEO James Dolan's February 2012 address to employees, during which he expresses "disappointment" regarding proposed organized labor activity.
Said Dolan: "Last week there was a vote by some of our employees in Brooklyn to join a union. And I'm disappointed in that vote. The reason that I'm disappointed in that vote is because I think those employees were making a statement about their working environment and their relationship with the company, and they decided that they needed to have somebody speak for them in order to improve that… We think that when you have a direct relationship with your company, that that enhances our ability to change the company. You can see that there are a lot of changes that we have to make in order to stay competitive, in order to be successful together as a company. I don't think having a party in between us helps us. I think it hurts us, and that's why I'm disappointed. But we're supposed to do a good job there. Management is supposed to do a good job there. We're supposed to uphold these values, and we're not supposed to put you in a position where you would think that somebody else can better represent you than yourself. So we're going to change that."
- read this National Labor Relations Board ruling
- read this Communications Workers of America press release
NY City Council meets Tuesday about possible Cablevision franchise violations
Cablevision accuses NYC Mayor and CWA of 'scheming' in secret meeting
Cablevision CEO James Dolan fights big labor in NYC … as pro-union mayor takes over Big Apple
Cablevision's Dolan accused of union-busting by NLRB
Cablevision sees 3.7% revenue spike despite worst-ever quarterly subscriber loss
Cablevision sues Brooklyn local CWA for accusing it of racism
Cablevision: Majority of Brooklyn workers still want out of union
Unionized Brooklyn Cablevision techs release YouTube music video: 'Strike'
Bronx Cablevision technicians reject proposal to join CWA