Almost a year after workers at its Brooklyn offices voted to unionize, Cablevision Systems has filed suit in New York State Supreme Court in Nassau County, N.Y., claiming the Communications Workers of America defamed the cable operator, making false claims about its quality of service.
About 282 Cablevision technicians in Brooklyn voted to join the CWA in January 2012.An attempt to organize Cablevision Bronx operations in June, however, fell short.
In its suit filed Dec. 26, Cablevision claims that since October 2012, the CWA has been engaged in the widespread dissemination of false and malicious information about Cablevision, claiming the MSO’s Internet speeds are about 25% slower in Brooklyn than in the Bronx. The company also claims the CWA has made statements in the media an elsewhere that Cablevision is purposefully providing an inferior service to its Brooklyn customers.
“The CWA Union has acted in a deceptive and libelous manner with the deliberate intention of harming Cablevision, misleading our customers and injuring the reputation of our company,” Cablevision said in a statement. “It is outrageous that the CWA and its Local 1109, which represents a small number of employees in one Cablevision facility in Brooklyn, would resort to these actions as part of a malicious campaign to intimidate our company. This is an insult to our Brooklyn employees and our customers, and we are taking legal action to ensure that this illegal behavior stops.”
The union, for its part, is sticking to its guns, claiming that data collected from its www.SpeedMatters.org website consistently shows slower speeds for Cablevision's Brooklyn customers.
"The actions and statements of [Cablevision CEO] James Dolan and Cablevision executives couldn’t be clearer: Dolan’s threats to technicians that he would ‘leave Brooklyn behind’ in technology because of workers’ votes to join CWA and Cablevision’s refusal to offer automatic refunds to customers after Sandy shows that Dolan is abusive to both workers and customers," the union said in a statement. "James Dolan can file all the bogus lawsuits he wants, we won’t be bullied and will continue to advocate for Cablevision workers and customers.”
Cablevision has offered refunds to customers that experienced service outages due to the Superstorm, but only if they notified the company either by phone or online.
In a report in October that it said surveyed about 200 Cablevision high-speed Internet customers, the CWA claimed the MSO delivered speeds of just 15 Megabits per second in Broooklyn, compared to 20 Mbps in the Bronx.
Cablevision disputed those claims, citing Federal Communications Commission reports that said it exceeded its advertised Internet speeds.
The dispute seems to recall ads by Verizon Communications in 2011 that cited an FCC report admonishing Cablevision for delivering slower than advertised Internet speeds. The MSO made changes to its offerings and has maintained that its Internet speeds have exceeded advertised rates, claims that were backed up by an FCC report in 2012.
Cablevision also claimed the CWA staged a protest to disrupt a cancer research fundraiser by the company, exploited Hurricane Sandy by placing misleading “robocalls” to storm victims, disseminated misleading information about Cablevision to government officials and misled Cablevision customers.