Charter’s Rutledge picketed by strikers amid SCTE keynote

DENVER—With a strike by New York technical workers against Charter Communications into its seventh month, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers stood outside the Colorado Convention Center today, handing out protest flyers as Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge readied to take the stage for his SCTE Cable-Tec Expo keynote.

“Rutledge made $98 million last year,” read the flyer. “$47,363 should buy you better customer service.”

The nearly 1,800 striking workers have leveraged Rutledge’s 2016 salary, a bonus-rich compensation package calculated in a year in which the cable company greatly enhanced its value by closing on its purchase of Time Warner Cable.

The workers, inherited from TWC, have been on strike since March 28. 

Inside the convention center, Rutledge ignored the protest, delivering a wide-ranging morning dissertation to a packed ballroom. He told attendees they were not in the video business—cable is a business of “connectivity, capacity and security,” one which is heavily underpenetrated, Rutledge said. 

He added that Charter’s focus is now on the development of what he calls 6G.

“I call it that because it’s something the phone guys don’t have. It’s an inside-out strategy using small-cell radios we already have, and combining it with a high-capacity fixed-network that we already have,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, speaking on a wide number of industry topics, Rutledge made a connection between regulatory success and a good customer service reputation. 

“Poor service is an issue that’s after the industry,” he said. “Service itself is a product. It determines how we’re seen from a regulatory perspective, and it also has a dramatic impact on how we attract capital.”