Several members of the New York City Council accused Cablevision Corp. on Tuesday of engaging in "union busting" tactics that included unfairly dismissing 22 workers last month.
During a hearing in Manhattan, Cablevision lawyer Jerry Kauff said the 22 workers were not fired, but rather "permanently replaced" for refusing to work. Five have since been rehired, and the company expects the others to follow suit, Kauff said.
City Council members said the Bethpage-based company had awarded raises to nonunion workers while stonewalling those in Brooklyn who have been in contract talks since joining the Communications Workers of America 12 months ago. By ousting the 22 unionized employees, who wanted to meet with a company executive to express frustration with the pace of negotiations, Cablevision sent a chilling message, the council members said.
"The company is engaging in textbook union busting," Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) said during the hearing, which examined whether Cablevision violated labor provisions under an agreement allowing the company to install cable under city streets.
Company officials strenuously rebutted the assertions, pointing out that workers are unionized at several businesses owned by Cablevision, including Newsday. James J. Claffey Jr., a union official, testified that the family of Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan has maintained good relations with workers he represents at Madison Square Garden, which is controlled by the Dolan family.
"Cablevision always respects the rights of our employees who choose union representation," said Lisa Rosenblum, Cablevision's executive vice president of government affairs.
Council members said the company was using legalese to sugarcoat the dismissals, which are under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board.