Charter Communications said a Sept. 7 outage in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, was caused by yet more vandalism tied to its months-long impasse with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
“Our repair crews have been working tirelessly throughout the night to restore service as quickly as possible, and we expect gradual restoration during the day,” Charter said in a statement released last week to Multichannel News. “We appreciate our customers’ patience as we do. We are also working with the NYPD on an investigation of this latest round of criminal destruction of our network.”
Charter also said there have been 110 acts of vandalism on its fiber lines in New York and New Jersey since the strike started on March 28. This is compared to just four such criminal acts in the three previous years.
It has now been more than five full months since around 1,700 IBEW Local 3 workers, mostly inherited during Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable last year, went on strike.
Charter’s current franchise agreement gives the cable company 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.
With job descriptions ranging from field engineer to warehouse employee, the striking workers say they have endured deteriorating work conditions and forfeited benefits since Charter closed its acquisition of TWC. The members of the IBEW Local 3 said they have been working without contracts since 2013.
Charter 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.