Thousands of Building Trades workers show their support of the striking Spectrum employees.
On Monday, October 30th, thousands of union members from all across the New York City labor movement gathered for the second time in a month to rally with 1,800 Local 3 workers on strike from Spectrum since March. The crowd gathered in front of the stage in Times Square at 42nd street and Broadway in barricades that stretched down to 38th street. The Local 3 members have been on strike from Charter/Spectrum Communications protesting the company’s attempts to stop paying into workers’ pension and benefit funds. Local 3 Business Manager Christopher Erikson started off the roster of speakers and guests by discussing the attacks on the unionized workforce in the city and how important it is that we stand up against the corporate greed seeking to break the labor movement. “This strike began over seven months ago against a company whose CEO made 98 million dollars last year and the brutality of starving their employees into submission continues today with Charter Spectrum.” Business Manager Erikson told the crowd that Spectrum is resisting to negotiate a fair contract and has employed a nonunion workforce to try and run its business while professional, skilled Local 3 technicians remain out of work. “There’s a trend now in New York City to hire nonunion, 20 dollars an hour, no benefits, attack the public sector unions, attack collective bargaining rights and workers’ pensions and it all stems from the constellation of Trump appointees who are out to hurt organized labor.”
The crowd then heard from a number of other speakers from within the labor movement who know that solidarity is the only answer to a multi-billion dollar corporation like Spectrum. Local 3’s fight today could be their fight tomorrow. Each speaker, as loud and passionate as the next, included IBEW Vice President of the 3rd District Mike Welsh, CWA President Christopher Shelton, Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera, Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento and NYC CLC President Vinny Alvarez.
Striking Local 3 member Marvin Billups, the subject of a commercial Local 3 bought prime television time to air to the public, told the crowd about how his union health insurance helped save his young daughter’s life many years ago. Billups told the crowd he and his brothers and sisters are standing strong against Charter/Spectrum’s threats because they know how hard they have worked for the benefits and pensions they deserve.
New York’s elected officials turned out once again to ramp up pressure from government that Spectrum has been unfair in refusing to negotiate with its workers who are mostly city residents. Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito all stopped by to voice their support for the striking workers.
Business Manager Erikson wrapped up the rally thanking the crowd and urging them to keep up the good fight and remember the striking workers throughout the holiday season. “The strikers’ unemployment benefits will run out just before Thanksgiving and their 39 weeks of medical benefits will be up around the end of the year. We have to fight and get through the next couple months,” Erikson said as the music blared and the crowd clapped and roared.