WASHINGTON — The Communications Workers of America has told the New York State Public Service Commission that the proposed merger of Altice and Cablevision Systems is not in the public interest and should be rejected.
The 700,000-member union, which represents 300 Cablevision employees, made its argument in initial comments to the New York PSC. The union has already urged the Federal Communications Commission to block the deal, and plans to take the same tack with the New York City Franchise Concession Review Committee and the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
Cablevision in February of last year reached agreement on a new contract with the CWA, but only after years of contentious negotiations.
The union is concerned about job losses, and about the amount of assumed debt involved in European telco Altice’s $17.7 billion all-cash purchase of Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision. The CWA has argued that the deal’s heavy debt burden could put jobs at risk, so it has been pushing back on a number of regulatory fronts.
The CWA has weighed in at hearings in Peekskill, N.Y. (Jan. 26); in New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx (Jan. 27); and in Long Island, N.Y.’s Nassau and Suffolk counties (both Jan. 2).
Altice and Cablevision have dismissed the CWA opposition, saying it "relies on selective press accounts, mischaracterization and surmise to impugn the transaction and advance its own narrow interests."
The deal partners called the structuring of their transaction sound, with demonstrable consumer benefits including network investment. They also noted that some of the deal’s debt load is the restructuring of existing Cablevision debt.