After Defeat, CWA Wins Another Cablevision Election

Mike Elk

After los­ing a June 27 Cable­vi­sion elec­tion by a whop­ping 121 – 43 vote in the Bronx, the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers of Amer­i­ca (CWA) won a whop­ping 53 – 5 vic­to­ry in their orga­niz­ing dri­ve at Fal­con Data Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a Cable­vi­sion con­trac­tor, last Fri­day in Brook­lyn. The elec­tion marks the CWA’s third vic­to­ry at Cable­vi­sion in the last sev­en months, after near­ly a decade of unsuc­cess­ful orga­niz­ing at the company. 

Dur­ing the Fal­con dri­ve in Brook­lyn, tech­ni­cian Kirk Collins, one of the union lead­ers in the shop, was fired for hand­ing out pro-union pam­phlets on the job. The next morn­ing on June 6, 60 Cable­vi­sion con­trac­tors employed by Fal­con went out on a wild­cat strike, demand­ing that Collins and anoth­er work­er who had been fired the pre­vi­ous week for refus­ing to do an unsafe job were rehired. After two hours, the com­pa­ny decid­ed to rehire the work­ers and the strike end­ed. Collins says the strug­gle against a heavy-hand­ed man­age­ment and the suc­cess of the wild­cat strike uni­fied work­ers in their desire to form a union.

It feels good,” Collins says. It just shows when you have a com­mon goal and uni­ty and every­body is on the same page you can achieve any­thing. Hope­ful­ly this is just the begin­ning. Hope­ful­ly the oth­er sub­con­trac­tors can all come togeth­er, union­ize and orga­nize, and set a precedent.”

Build­ing on the momen­tum, CWA plans to con­tin­ue orga­niz­ing Cable­vi­sion work­ers through­out the city.

We got a plan to orga­nize every sin­gle con­trac­tor,” says CWA Dis­trict 1 Orga­niz­ing Direc­tor Tim Dub­nau. Cable­vi­sion con­trac­tors are paid pover­ty-lev­el wages with no health ben­e­fits, no 401k, and no safe­ty on the job. This is the engine that is giv­ing [Cable­vi­sion own­er James] Dolan his mil­lions. We want to orga­nize the whole indus­try so we can get bar­gain­ing pow­er to change con­di­tions in the whole industry.”

CWA has anoth­er union elec­tion sched­uled on Fri­day for six Cable­vi­sion con­trac­tors employed by Fal­con in Westch­ester that they expect to win. Also, last week CWA filed for anoth­er union elec­tion for 55 Cable­vi­sion con­trac­tors employed by Vision Pro in Brooklyn.

We are going to start dras­ti­cal­ly increas­ing the den­si­ty,” says Dub­nau. At the begin­ning of the year, we had zero per­cent mem­ber­ship among Cable­vi­sion work­ers in Brook­lyn. Now we are 55% den­si­ty in Brook­lyn, maybe more. We have leads all over the city. We have nowhere to go but up.”

Mike Elk wrote for In These Times and its labor blog, Work­ing In These Times, from 2010 to 2014. He is cur­rent­ly a labor reporter at Politico.
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