New York City is launching an investigation into whether Charter Communications is violating its cable franchise agreement by importing out-of-state workers to manage a protracted strike.
According to the New York Daily News, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications is probing whether Charter is in compliance with rules mandating use of local vendors whenever feasible.
In fact, the department had already been looking into Charter’s compliance but said it wasn’t satisfied with the cable operator’s inquiry responses. It’s now elevating the issue to a formal audit.
“We haven't been able to ascertain whether or not Charter has indeed complied with the ... in their agreement. The audit is the next step in gaining clarity,” said DOITT spokeswoman Kate Blumm to the Daily News.
“We are concerned that Charter Communications may not be taking its franchise agreement with the city seriously,” added New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “At this point, we have not choice but to conduct an audit to guarantee that Charter is in compliance, particularly with provisions meant to protect worker’s rights.”
Charter released this statement to FierceCable: “The contractors serving our customers during the strike are overwhelmingly from New York City,” Bonomo said. “However, the franchise clearly allows the company to use contractors from elsewhere, which we are doing. While we will not elaborate on our contingency planning, the use of a stringent vetting process and use of quality contractors is paramount so that we may best serve our customers. We are well aware of this franchise term and are complying fully with its mandate.”
About 1,800 Charter employees in New York, represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and acquired last year when Charter closed on Time Warner Cable, have been on strike since March 28.
The Daily News said that Charter contractors in the city have been spotted driving cars with plates from Texas, Illinois, California and parts of New England.
Last month, New York City Councilman Rory Lancman joined the picket line and urged Charter to stop importing workers from other states.
“Charter Communications' decision to use out-of-state contractors not only goes against its franchise agreement with the city, but also the values we hold as New Yorkers," Lancman said. “We believe that work in New York City should be performed by New York City workers, like Local 3, who have the training and expertise to get the job done right.”