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.”