Comcast Wins Union Votes in Pa.

11/19/2003 4:26 AM Eastern

Five of seven locals of the Communications Workers of America organized in Comcast Corp. business units around Pittsburgh have voted to decertify the union, according to uncertified results from the National Labor Relations Board.

The elections were held Nov. 12 and 17 by the bargaining units, comprised of installers, technicians and customer-service workers.

One of the business units, comprised of installers based on Brownsville Road in Pittsburgh, may also become decertified, according to Stanley Zawatski, regional attorney for the NLRB.

Workers in that unit were split evenly over decertification, 57-57, but two votes were challenged. This happens, for instance, when the union alleges that a voter is a supervisor and shouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot, Zawatski explained.

For the union to be retained, the CWA must win by a majority plus one, so both disputed ballots must count -- and go the union’s way -- for representation to continue in that unit.

Until the challenge is adjudicated, both ballots remain sealed. They may never be opened if the NLRB agrees that bona fide union members did not cast the votes.

Three other shops had challenged votes, but there were not enough in any shop to change the result of the election, so they are nullified, according to Zawatski.

An installers’ union shop in Penn Hills, consisting of 58 union members, was the only one with an uncontested, pro-union vote, according to the uncertified results.

Until this election, the CWA represented about 1,000 Comcast workers around Pittsburgh. The shops were set up during a big union push by the CWA in 1999-2000, when former owner Tele-Communications Inc. sold the systems to AT&T Corp.

The union already had strong representation among AT&T’s telephony workers, and it sought to organize its cable workers, too. About 2,700 cable workers joined the union, the majority of those in work units around Pittsburgh.

Both Comcast and the CWA have until Nov. 25 to challenge the voting results.

Comcast regional spokesman Brian Jeter said the company respects the choices made by its employees and it will continue to invest in its workers, which he called the company’s strongest asset.

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