Charter can pay New York workers ‘decent contract’ if it can pay Rutledge $98M, de Blasio says

Tom Rutledge
Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge brought home $98 million last year.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has sided with the IBEW in its three-month battle with Charter Communications.

“This is a situation that has to be resolved for the good of New York City,” de Blasio said, appearing on the weekly talk show Inside City Hall, which runs on Charter-owned local channel NY1. “We’re talking about working people who are trying to make ends meet, trying to get a fair contract.”

RELATED: Strike by Charter IBEW workers enters third month, no end in sight

Around 1,700 workers with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 went on strike against Charter on March 28 over a disagreement about the company's contributions to pensions and benefits, among other concerns. Talks with Charter, which acquired former Spectrum parent Time Warner Cable last year, have not been productive.

The mayor took aim at Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge, who received the largest amount of compensation for any top executive for a publicly traded U.S. company last year, bringing home $98 million following the cable company’s closure of its Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks purchases. 

“So I have to imagine the resources are there to give working people a decent contract, and I hope this is something that can be resolved for everyone’s benefit,” de Blasio said. 

As the New York Daily News reported, the current franchise agreement gives Charter the nonexclusive right to operate cable franchises in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island through 2020. That provision comes with certain conditions, including one allowing employees the right to collective bargaining, an issue that’s at the heart of the current Spectrum strike.

The city’s franchise agreement states that Spectrum “shall recognize the right of its employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.”

With job descriptions ranging from field engineer to warehouse employee, the affected workers said they have endured deteriorating work conditions and forfeited benefits since Charter closed its acquisition of TWC last May. Members of the IBEW Local 3 said they have been working without contracts since 2013.

Spectrum has asserted that it has offered field technicians a pay increase higher than what the union has demanded, along with "competitive and robust" healthcare and retirement benefits.