Striking Charter workers stage Manhattan rally as MSO reportedly brings in out-of-state techs

Strike signs
At least 1,700 workers walked off the job on March 28. The workers, with job descriptions ranging from field engineer to warehouse employee, said they have endured deteriorating work conditions and forfeited benefits since Charter closed its acquisition of TWC last May.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) members picketed outside a Charter Communications office at 120 E. 23rd St. in Manhattan Wednesday as a strike against the MSO by union workers in New York and New Jersey entered its second week.

The striking IBEW tech workers are accusing Charter of bringing in techs from other regions as replacements

In fact, Richard Shabman, a longtime IBEW Local 3 member for 37 years, accused Charter of violating its franchise agreement with New York by bringing in out-of-state replacement workers.

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“We’ve seen license plates from Ohio, Illinois, all over,” Shabman told the New York Daily News. “These are the scabs the company hired—against their agreement with the city.”

RELATED: Charter workers strike in New York and New Jersey

At least 1,700 workers walked off the job on March 28. The workers, with job descriptions ranging from field engineer to warehouse employee, said they have endured deteriorating work conditions and forfeited benefits since Charter closed its acquisition of TWC last May. The members of the IBEW Local 3 said they have been working without contracts since 2013.

The IBEW told the Daily News that around 2,000 workers were expected to picket the Charter office Wednesday. A Charter source, however, pegged the figure at less than half that amount. 

Central to the impasse are pension and health benefits. According to the Daily News, Charter wishes to exit the pension and health benefits contracts carved out between TWC and the IBEW, and pay workers higher wages as compensation. The union has reportedly rejected this offer. 

A Charter rep told FierceCable, "Spectrum's primary objective is to provide great service to our customers and we believe fairly compensated field technicians are critical to that objective. This is why Spectrum is offering our field technicians an even larger pay increase than the union has demanded along with competitive and robust healthcare and retirement benefits.  We believe this greater compensation to be more beneficial to our employees than continuing to fund the failing union-managed benefits program. We have a solid contingency plan in place and customers haven’t been impacted by Local 3’s actions."

“I hope this company, and others see that we are strong—union strong. We will not be intimidated or forced into anything,” said Terrell Reyes, an IBEW-repped technician who joined Charter when it took over Time Warner Cable last year, to the Daily News.

UPDATED: This story was updated to include comment from Charter Communications. 

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