Charter Communications’ labor impasse with 1,800 New York City tech workers hit the one-year mark this week, and the end of the strike appears nowhere near.
"We are focused on best serving our customers,” Charter said in a statement emailed to FierceCable this morning. “Our dedicated team of NYC employees is working hard every day to deliver the best TV, internet and voice experience to Spectrum customers. We continue to meet customer demands for installation and repair work, and we’re also investing in even better Spectrum services, including increasing our starting internet speed to 200 Mbps and offering Spectrum Internet Gig to NYC residents."
“They picked on the wrong union,” said Chris Erikson, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3, which represents the workers, to Charter hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate.
“We believe working people are entitled to security in their retirement and medical coverage,” Erikson added.
The strike began on March 28 of last year, with the workers seeking to maintain the same benefits they enjoyed before Charter purchased their previous employer, Time Warner Cable.
The workers say that Charter is trying to ditch benefits including pension contributions and hospitalization support, while also trying to eliminate overtime and holiday pay.
According to the Advocate, Charter said its offering Local 3 members dollar-for-dollar matching on up to 6% contributions on 401(k) plans. It also said its offering wage increases of 22%, with some employees getting raises of up to 55%.
“This benefit package is in line with the plans enjoyed by more than 94,000 Charter employees nationwide,” Charter told the paper in a separate statement.
Charter is appealing with the National Labor Relations Board a ruling by an administrative law judge, upholding Local 3’s claims that Charter used coercive tactics to control the workers during their transition from TWC.
The strike is lingering as Charter faces a renewal of its cable franchise agreement in the Big Apple, and state and local government officials are unhappy with the cable operator about numerous things.
For example, New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications said earlier this month that only seven of 26 vendors used by the cable operator in New York are from the area.
Charter’s franchise agreement calls for it to use local vendors as much as it can. The city said only 27% of Charter’s vendors meet the local qualifications of the franchise agreement vs. the 77% claimed by the operator.
State officials, meanwhile, are concerned that Charter isn’t moving fast enough on broadband infrastructure buildout promises made during the regulatory approval process of the TWC merger.
“Charter is committed to bringing more broadband to more people across New York State," responded Charter in another statement sent to Fierce this morning. "We exceeded our last buildout commitment by thousands of homes and businesses. We’ve also raised our speeds to deliver faster broadband statewide. We are in full compliance with our merger order and the New York City franchise, and we will fight these baseless actions vigorously.”