Cablevision Systems Corp. employees in Rockland County,
N.Y., voted against union representation by the International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers last week.
By an overwhelming margin of 27-7, technicians, maintenance
workers, warehouse workers and construction workers at the system voted against being
represented by IBEW Local 363.
However, IBEW officials said last week that they were
preparing objections to the election, in support of charges filed earlier with the
National Labor Relations Board alleging that Cablevision sabotaged the process through
unfair labor practices.
The union objected to Cablevision's doling out
unscheduled raises in order to influence the vote; bringing in anti-union workers to ride
with truck drivers who were considering voting for the union; telling workers that a vote
for the union would cost them their 401K retirement plans; and handing out new tools,
clothing and promotions.
"It was textbook union-busting," IBEW business
representative Gilbert Heim said.
Cablevision spokesman Charles Schueler denied any
wrongdoing on the part of the MSO.
"The company engaged in no wrongdoing of any kind with
regard to its employees or the presumptive right of our employees to make their own
choices," Schueler said.
Unions have historically had a tough time organizing
cable-system employees. But as telephone companies such as AT&T Corp., which are more
organized, continue to enter the cable business, unions are expected to be more active in
trying to sign up cable members.
Job security was apparently the main concern for the
workers, who feared that industry consolidation might cost them their positions via the
sale or trade of the system.
Schueler said there were "absolutely no plans" to
sell the Rockland system, which is part of Cablevision's New York-area cluster of 2.7
million subscribers. "There are bright opportunities for Cablevision employees at
these systems," he added.