Cablevision contractor’s workers vote to unionize

A month after Cablevision technicians in the Bronx rejected unionization, workers for one of its contractors choose representation by the Communication Workers of America

Technicians at Falcon Data Co. Inc., a Cablevision Systems Corp. contractor, voted overwhelmingly Friday to unionize, the latest development in a back-and-forth battle to organize employees who perform work for the cable giant.

The Communication Workers of America’s victory, by a 53 to 5 margin, followed an election last month in which Cablevision technicians in the Bronx resoundingly rejected unionization. The communications and media labor union withdrew its petition for a second Bronx vote last month, claiming intimidation would skew the result, though Cablevision said it was because the union feared defeat. The National Labor Relations Board has certified the result of the Bronx election.

In May, workers for another Cablevision subcontractor, Corbel Installations, voted to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. And in January, Cablevision technicians in Brooklyn voted resoundingly to join the Communication Workers of America. The union had hoped those results signaled a shift in the telecommunications industry, where only about 4% of cable television workers are unionized. Officials believed momentum from Brooklyn could spread to Cablevision workers in the Bronx and on Long Island.

“Workers in the cable industry are… demanding fair wages, better conditions and above all: respect,” said Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA District One.

Most of the Falcon workers earn less than $30,000 a year and don’t receive benefits, according to the union. Wages, benefits and job security were among the main reasons the workers sought to unionize. Friday’s vote affects 69 workers.

A separate vote is scheduled for next Friday for a smaller unit of Falcon workers in Westchester County. And the National Labor Relations Board is expected to set an election date for workers at Visionpro, a Long Island-based Cablevision contractor, in the coming weeks.

The vote came just a month after Falcon workers went on a half-day wildcat strike to protest the firing of two employees, allegedly for union activity. The workers were rehired about three hours into the strike and their colleagues then returned to their jobs.

“They can try to intimidate us, scare us—they even tried to fire two of us—but today we showed that they can’t take away our right to join a union,” said Kirk Collins, one of the workers who was briefly fired.

Falcon referred calls to the company’s attorney, Mark Hernandez, of Putney Twombly, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Cablevision spokesman said, “It’s not our company and therefore we have no comment.”

 

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