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Cablevision exec James Dolan accused of threatening pay raises over union vote

Nov 09, 2014
  • Newsday owner accused of anti-union threats by NLRB

Cablevision executive James Dolan has been charged with illegally threatening to withhold workers’ pay raises unless they voted against joining a union, it was reported Friday.


The National Labor Relations Board also said in a complaint Thursday that New York Knicks owner Dolan had worked to illegally set up a nonbinding vote in an attempt to weaken the hold of Communications Workers of America on Cablevision employees.


The NLRB ruling was first reported by The New York Times Friday.


The Times said that Dolan called the NLRB’s charges unfair and said the board was too willing to accept the union’s assertions.


“The NLRB has turned into a tool of Big Labor,” Dolan told The Times.


Communications Workers of America has waged a determined war to unionize Cablevision technicians. Workers in its Brooklyn unit voted to join CWA about three years ago.


But Dolan’s company has yet to grant a contract to the unionized workers, according to the CWA.
The latest charges against Dolan follow two prior investigations into alleged anti-union activity at his Brooklyn shop.


In April 2013 the NLRB investigated claims that Cablevision illegally fired 22 workers in Brooklyn, bargained in bad faith and spied on its employees. A shop in the Bronx filed complaints that Cablevision was illegally intimidating, harassing and trying to bribe workers during a union representation election.


Decisions from an administrative law judge on both those cases are expected in the near future.


In the NLRB’s latest round of charges, Cablevision is accused of offering illegal raises of $2 to $9 an hour — as much as $18,000 annually — to nearly 17,000 workers outside of Brooklyn, according to CWA District 1.

The raises were sweeteners to induce the workers to vote against joining CWA, the union claims.


“It’s time for public officials to make clear to James Dolan that just because he’s a billionaire, he doesn’t get to supersede the law or trample on workers’ rights. Brooklyn Cablevision workers deserve equal pay, the respect of having their federally protected labor rights honored, and a fair contract,” said Chris Shelton, president of CWA District 1, the local that represents Brooklyn Cablevision workers.


CWA’s fight appears to have broad support in the City Council.


Forty-two of the 51 members recently wrote to the Commissioner of the city’s Dept. of Information Technology and Telecommunication to express concern over the numerous NLRB charges against the company for violating federal labor laws.


Cablevision said in a statement, responding to the NLRB findings, “We are outraged but not surprised by the one-sided findings from an NLRB which operates to protect the interests of Big Labor. The NLRB Regional Office led by Director Paulsen should be serving as a trusted government body with an open mind, but instead acts to advance the CWA’s agenda. At the same time, Director Paulsen’s Office willfully ignored and failed to act on serious violations perpetrated by the CWA against Cablevision employees. Cablevision will vigorously defend against these unfounded NLRB allegations until we reach a legitimate court of law as opposed to a biased federal agency run by political appointees.”

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