A Charter Communications employee is trying to decertify International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3, the embattled union on strike against the telecom giant since March 28, 2017.
Earlier this month, National Labor Relations Board Region 2 Regional Director John Walsh determined that Bruce Carberry, a Charter technician, could move forward with his decertification petition
Carberry, who could not be reached for comment, started working as a supervisor for Charter at its facility in College Point in May 2017, according to the labor board, when the union was on strike.
He began a transition to a new survey technician position in December last year, and by Feb. 20 the process was over. On his LinkedIn page, Carberry’s title is “Field Supervisor.”
The union’s challenge to the petition hinged upon whether the employee was a supervisor when he filed the petition in May this year, which isn’t allowed. Walsh ruled Local 3 didn’t prove it.
Walsh dictated that there will be a secret, mail-in election that will determine whether IBEW Local 3 continues to be the collective bargaining representative of a large chunk of the Charter workforce that includes warehouse technicians and field and network operations workers.
IBEW Local 3 will likely challenge the votes of replacement employees, and the corporation plans to challenge those of the union members, according to a source close to the labor group.
The union has accused Charter of supporting the decertification attempt, a claim the company roundly rejects and says it cannot do anyway. Local 3’s filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that the company’s violated the National Labor Relations Act. If successful, its claim would negate Walsh’s move to direct the election.
Carberry’s attorney, Matthew Antonek, has previously represented Verizon Wireless.
In the union’s pending claim, it alleges Antonek has since 2001 “maintained a working relationship” with an employment attorney who’s represented Charter. It also charges that he was “referred” by the company to Carberry.
Additionally, Local 3 said, supervisors at Charter told a striking member of the union named Steve McCormack about company plans to decertify the union. The conversations, the labor group charges, included transferring Carberry to his nonsupervisory technician job.
The telecom staunchly denies the union’s claims, saying it’s had no involvement whatsoever with the decertification petition.
“The petition to decertify was not filed by Charter, but by an employee,” company spokesman John Bonomo said in an email. “It is a matter between our employees and the union. We don’t have any further comment.”
According to City Council testimony last month from Local 3 business agent Derek Jordan, around 1,800 of its workers are still on strike.
Charter told the Chronicle “hundreds” of Local 3 members have crossed the picket line, declining to give an exact number for those who did.
Since the beginning, the strike’s been a bitter battle. If one asks IBEW Local 3, Charter wants to cut its members’ pension and healthcare plans.
The telecom says it’s offered striking members a 22 percent wage increase on average — with some being offered as much as a 55 percent raise — along with an attractive retirement and health benefits package.
Each side accuses the other of failing to be an effective negotiating partner.
“To get a deal done, Charter earlier this year offered to continue paying into Local 3’s failing benefits plan for 2 years for the workers closest to retirement while maintaining the significant wage increases we have been giving our employees since last summer,” Bonomo said in an email. “As with our previous offers, Local 3 leadership rejected it out of hand.”
Last month, the state Public Service Commission slapped the telecom behemoth with a $2 million fine, saying it failed to meet targets for network expansion. The commission also said if Charter — which does business as Spectrum — doesn’t accept the terms given by the body in its 2016 approval of the company’s purchase of Time Warner Cable, it will revoke its approval of the merger.
Bonomo shot back at the PSC in a statement to the Chronicle.
“The fact is that Spectrum has built out our broadband network to more than 42,000 unserved or underserved homes since the merger,” he said. “We find it baffling that the PSC thinks that some New Yorkers count and others don’t, given their belief that access to broadband is essential for economic development and social equity.”
Additionally, a judge in February rejected a motion by Charter that attempted to dismiss a civil suit brought by New York State alleging the company defrauded people and was dishonest to them by saying it could provide undeliverable internet speeds.
In response to the litigation, Charter said it would “continue to defend vigorously against these allegations.”
In January, union member Andre Segree, a Brooklyn resident, was arrested for allegedly slashing fiber optic wires in Astoria last September. He is being prosecuted by the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
IBEW Local 3 has consistently denied any connection to vandalism like the kind Segree is accused of, which has occurred several times.