Spectrum Strike's New Battleground
IBEW Local 3 NYC to bring the fight against corporate greed to the shareholders
For the last month, 1,700 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3 members have been on strike against cable giant Spectrum. These Local 3 members have walked the picket line every day, throughout New York City and Bergen County, NJ to prevent givebacks and cuts to their contract. While the members have been picketing outside of Spectrum yards and even held a rally at Spectrum Headquarters in New York City, this week the employees will bring the picket line and their message to the Wall Street investors at the Annual Shareholders Meeting.
On April 25th, Charter/ Spectrum will hold their shareholders meeting in one of most expensive zip codes in the country, Stamford Connecticut. As the investors enter the meeting they will be greeted by Local 3 members picketing the meeting. Just like the Communications Workers of America (CWA) did in their strike against Verizon last year, employees who hold stock in the company will attend the meeting and some will even speak about the company’s failure to work out a fair contract with Local 3. Like a lot of companies Charter, Spectrum’s parent company, uses stock options as an alternative form of compensation for the employees’ retirement ensuring a large contingent of angry employees will be at the meeting.
The fight that Local 3 is taking part in is a true David vs. Goliath battle. At the shareholders meeting the speakers will be addressing the $99 Million man, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge. With a $98.5 Million compensation package last year, he was the highest paid CEO in the country. Now Spectrum is demanding give backs from the workers, but not from Rutledge. We can’t make this up.
While the workers walk the picket line, Spectrum has begun bringing in scabs from other states, in violation of their contract with New York City. The contract, which allows Spectrum (formerly known as Time Warner) to operate in the city, requires the company to employ New Yorkers, but Local 3 told the Village Voice that they are bringing in scabs from as far away as California. According to New York City Public Advocate Tish James, when New York State approved the merger of Time Warner and Charter the deal was contingent on a promise to protect New Yorkers jobs. By bringing in scabs and refusing to negotiate with the union, the company is in violation of these agreements. This isn’t the first time the Spectrum has faced potential legal trouble. The company is currently being sued by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for failing to deliver on internet speeds that they promised to consumers. We can’t make this stuff up.
Taking action against one of the largest cable companies in the country is a major task and Local 3 has not shied away from bringing to fight to the bigwig investors and leaders of the company. With the company facing a strike, political pressure and legal troubles, could Local 3 bringing the fight to the sheltered Wall St investors at the shareholders meeting could be the impetus that is needed? In the fight against corporate greed this might just be the spark that is needed to restart negotiations between the union and the company that give them a fair contract and get these 1,700 members back to work.