Union supporters asked to leave Cablevision shareholders' meeting

Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage. (Nov. 19, Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage. (Nov. 19, 2010) Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

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Police on Thursday ordered seven representatives of a union involved in a labor dispute with Cablevision Systems Corp. to leave the annual shareholders' meeting in Bethpage.

Tim Dubnau, an organizer for the Communications Workers of America, questioned Cablevision chief executive James L. Dolan about contract negotiations for about 280 Cablevision employees in Brooklyn during the period for shareholder questions.

Dolan asked Dubnau, who also is a shareholder, to leave after Dubnau interrupted him more than once. Dubnau said he would do so only if ordered by police. Dolan then asked Nassau County police officers to remove Dubnau and six other union supporters as some shouted questions and criticisms. Police had been outside because of a CWA protest in front of Cablevision's Bethpage offices.

A police spokeswoman said the incident was "still under investigation." A Cablevision official said the company would "pursue its legal rights," while a union official said it would file a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cablevision spokeswoman Lisa Anselmo said, "It is a shareholder meeting with a clear set of rules. The CWA attempted to disrupt the meeting; they were asked to refrain and when they did not, they were asked to leave. The matter is now in the hands of the authorities."

Chris Shelton, vice president of the CWA's District 1, said the union officials were Cablevision shareholders and shouldn't have been thrown out of the meeting "because they dare to ask tough questions."

The Dolan family owns a controlling interest in Cablevision, which owns Newsday.

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