Comcast Rehires Tech Cited by Dems

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Comcast Corp. has reinstated a fired technician whose case was highlighted during a speech at the recent Democratic National Convention as an example of anti-union abuses of workers by big companies.

The reinstatement of Stephen White to a position in the Montgomery County, Md., system is part of a settlement reached between the worker, union officials and Comcast. White filed a grievance for unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board challenging his termination.

The settlement was reached in advance of the hearing that was to be held Aug. 30.

'TIME AND DISRUPTION’

In a statement, Comcast officials stressed that the company “never fined or disciplined an employee for participating in union-organizing activities.”

“Comcast agreed to settle this matter with the NLRB because of the time and disruption that these types of legal situations cause. The agreement restates the fact that Comcast has not admitted any violation of the National Labor Relations Act,” the statement said.

According to the Communications Workers of America, Comcast will also post a notice in the workplace as part of the settlement. That notice vows that Comcast will “not issue written warnings or lower evaluation scores … for engaging in union activities.”

It also said that White, or other employees, “will not be fired for engaging in activities on behalf of a union.”

The restatement is seen as a rare win for unions against Comcast. Executives with the cable company have often stated their belief that employees have good compensation and benefits without union participation.

Although Comcast has been an active organizing target for both the CWA and the AFL-CIO, union membership has actually slid during the last two years.

Fewer than 2,000 of Comcast’s 68,000 employees are in unions, according to data from Comcast.

The decline in the union rolls is attributable to decertification votes by Comcast workers.

One of those units was the Montgomery County shop, which actually was decertified by a vote of the workers under a previous owner, Cable TV Montgomery. Comcast bought the operation in 2000.

White and others tried to revive the union shop in 2002 and a vote was scheduled in 2003, but the union’s backers called off the election.

FIRED IN '03

Later in 2003, White was terminated and union officials asserted the dismissal was tied to his union activities.

Comcast does not discuss personnel histories.

White filed a challenge with the labor board and while his case was pending, he was invited to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in August. He took the stage with AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney, who talked about corporate pressures on unions.

In addition to resuming his job, White received $22,000 in back pay, the CWA said.

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