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Agency reviewing Altice compliance with job protections, official says

The state Public Service Commission is reviewing whether Altice USA is complying with a 2016 agreement that protects some of the company’s jobs in the state, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

“The PSC will review the recent news of layoffs at Altice to ensure that the company did not violate the merger order’s requirement that there be no layoffs of customer-facing jobs,” said PSC spokesman James Denn, responding to a question from Newsday.

Two years ago, the PSC made a condition of its approval of the $17.7 billion sale of Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage to Altice’s parent, Altice N.V. of the Netherlands, that no “customer-facing employees” in New York State be laid off for four years. Customer-facing jobs were defined as those at call centers, walk-in centers and other operations where employees deal directly with customers, according to state records.

Altice USA spokeswoman Lisa Anselmo said Wednesday the provider of cable, internet and telephone services is in full compliance with the PSC agreement.

“Altice USA has consistently met all of its workforce commitments, and we have been in close coordination with the NYPSC,” she said. “Additionally, in many cases we have gone above and beyond our other regulatory commitments, and we continue to invest significantly in our employees in New York and throughout all the states we operate in.”

The company is required to file quarterly reports to the agency.

The PSC agreement doesn’t cover Altice USA’s News 12 subsidiary. On Tuesday, Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and members of his family, including his son Patrick Dolan, filed a lawsuit against Altice, alleging it has laid off News 12 employees in violation of the companies’ sale agreement. Newsday majority owner Patrick Dolan last month effectively acquired the remaining ownership stake in Newsday. 

Anselmo said Tuesday the suit is “completely without merit.”

Altice USA employed nearly 10,270 people at the end of 2017 in the former Cablevision territory, which consists of Long Island, parts of New York City and its northern suburbs, northern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut, according to securities filings.

Cablevision had about 12,180 employees at the end of 2015, excluding Newsday, which the company owned at the time.

Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei, in an Aug. 2 earnings conference call with reporters, said the company’s workforce in the metropolitan area has been reduced by “1,000 to 2,000.”

He said the job cuts are “really dealing with attrition across the board, primarily in call service people, which have been relocated to other parts of the country, and corporate” jobs at the former Cablevision headquarters in Bethpage. The company’s main office is now in Long Island City, Queens.

Goei said the layoffs haven’t affected customer service.

“Our service metrics continue to perform extremely well, and as you invest in technology and better processes you do need less people to be answering phones,” he said. “We are getting a lot less calls.”

Altice USA has 4.9 million customers in 21 states.

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