New report: Cablevision is leaving Brooklyn behind

Leaving Brooklyn Behind: New Report Highlights How Cablevision Shortchanges Workers and Customers in Brooklyn

Report Surveys Cablevision Customer Complaints and Shows Dangerous Conditions of Cable Lines and Equipment

Brooklyn – The Communications Workers of America, joined by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn elected officials and community leaders at a press conference today, released a new report entitled “Leaving Brooklyn Behind” on how Cablevision is shortchanging workers and customers across the borough. The report revealed survey results of Brooklyn Cablevision customers showing wide dissatisfaction and violations of the company’s franchise agreement with the City of New York. It also documented the poor conditions of Cablevision equipment and lines throughout the borough that pose a danger to residents and workers.

“The findings of our report are consistent with what we’ve been hearing from customers and even James Dolan himself,” said Chris Shelton, Vice President of CWA District 1. “After Brooklyn workers voted to become the first unionized workers in the company, Cablevision gave everyone but them raises and threatened to withhold new technology from them. It’s clear Cablevision has also left Brooklyn customers technologically behind with slower internet speeds and dangerous plant conditions. Refusing to provide workers with a fair contract they deserve and giving Brooklyn customers second class service all in the name of corporate greed is simply wrong.”

According to CWA’s in-person survey of 700 Brooklyn Cablevision customers, nearly 25% rated their service as “poor” or “terrible” and only 37% rated it favorably. Only half rated their picture quality and cable box as favorable. Additionally, nearly 90% of Brooklyn customers considered Cablevision costs too high for the services they are receiving. Customer feedback from the survey also indicated a range of violations of the company’s franchise agreement with the City of New York, including un-rebated service delays, improper charges, and extraordinarily long waits for installations.

“We need answers about the quality of service Brooklyn customers are getting,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “And we need Cablevision to do right by its workers and negotiate a fair contract in good faith. That what Brooklyn families–both customers and employees–deserve.”

Despite a campaign of harassment and intimidation by Cablevision executives and managers, 282 Brooklyn technicians voted to become the first union workers at the cable company in January of 2012. Since their vote, Cablevision has refused to offer the workers a just contract, despite giving raises of $2-$9 to all technicians outside of Brooklyn to stop workers from joining a union.

“For nearly a year, Cablevision has delayed and delayed,” said Jerome Thompson, a Brooklyn Cablevision technician.  “All we want is what is fair: to be treated with dignity and respect and to earn a living wage for our families. We’re tired of waiting for a fair contract and being retaliated against for standing up for our rights.”

Cablevision’s treatment of workers in Brooklyn has brought increasing scrutiny to the company’s practices affecting both workers and customers in the borough. CWA’s report documented numerous examples of faulty equipment throughout the company’s Brooklyn service areas. Data from CWA’s SpeedMatters.org website has shown Cablevision internet speeds in Brooklyn are 25% slower than those in the Bronx. In addition, Cablevision’s refusal to grant automatic credits to customers who lost service during Sandy forced people who may have been displaced or lost power to contact the company to receive the refund due to them. This practice is in contrast to Time Warner Cable who provided automatic credits to its customers for lost service.

“Cablevision’s Brooklyn consumers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and not with inferior service that paints a symbolic redline around them,” said Brooklyn Council Member Letitia James.  “It is also overdue for Cablevision to provide its Brooklyn workers with a fair contract after nearly a year since they voted to join CWA. Companies in our city – and particularly those with a city franchise agreement, like Cablevision – should be setting an example for how they treat both consumers and workers.”

Last week, Cablevision launched a frivolous defamation lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Nassau County against CWA. “The suit’s baseless claims are a despicable misuse of the court system in attempt to silence workers’ rights,” said Shelton. All of the issues that have been raised by CWA about Cablevision have either been objectively reported, are substantiated by data, or reflect the experiences of customers and workers.

“Brooklyn has been very good to Dolan and Cablevision,” said Bertha Lewis, President of The Black Institute. “Now Mr. Dolan says to Brooklyn: ‘drop dead.’ All because workers who do their jobs everyday want to be treated fairly. All because Brooklyn customers want to be treated with respect. Cablevision should invest in its workers and its customers. Brooklyn is the future. Cablevision is stuck in the past. Investing in Brooklyn is good business. Disinvestment in Brooklyn is just stupid and wrong.”

The full report is available at:  http://www.slideshare.net/Cablevision99/leaving-brooklyn-behind

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