Brooklyn Cablevision dodges ruling by going after NLRB

NEW YORK – Cablevision in Brooklyn has filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit claiming that the court’s recent invalidation of President Obama’s recess appointments of three members to the National Labor Relations Board means all decisions made by that board’s regional offices are also invalid.

Workers at Brooklyn Cablevision and their union, the Communications Workers of America, say the suit is an attempt by the company to sidestep government rulings that the company has failed to make a good faith effort to negotiate a contract.

In January, 2012, more than 280 Brooklyn Cablevision workers voted to join the Communications Workers of America and make it their bargaining representative. They’ve been in negotiations for a fair contract ever since then, with no success.

In April, two NLRB regional directors issued complaints against Cablevision , citing it for failing to bargain in good faith and for illegally firing 22 workers.

If Cablevision’s claim is upheld, it would not only block the actions against the cable company but invalidate all actions taken against the company since January, 2012 by the regional offices, including the citation for bad faith bargaining and the illegal firing of the 22 workers.

The filing of the suit now by Cablevision shows that the company’s CEO has been willing to do anything and use anyone, including the Wall Street Journal, to cover up and lie about his company’s intentions.

As recently as May 23 Cablevision CEO James Dolan was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about how he was “looking forward” to an NLRB hearing on the unfair labor practice charge. He made that claim only days before his company filed its suit, a legal move seen as a blatant attempt to sidestep the unfair labor practice charges.

“Rather than trying to make their case against charges of anti-union behavior before a law judge, Cablevision has resorted to trying to undermine the authority of the federal agency which reviewed the evidence and issued the charges,” declared Bob Master, legislative and political director for CWA District 1.

The action in court by Cablevsion comes at the same time that the GOP is mounting attacks against the NLRB on many other fronts. See related article.

President Obama’s NLRB nominess have been blocked by Senate Republicans ever since he was first elected in 2008. While the president’s bi-partisan package of five board nominees – three Democrats and two Republicans – was voted out of committee on a party-line vote last month, a filibuster by Senate Republicans is still a strong possibility. In any case, 45 GOP senators have, since that committee vote, signed onto an effort to get the Supreme Court to throw out three of the nominees approved by the bi-partisan committee. (They were the three recess appointments the president was forced to make because of GOP refusal to act on any of his nominees.)

The obstructionists are seen by many as counting on their ability to drag things out until August. If the president’s nominees are not confirmed begore August, when the term of office of one of the current board members ends, the board will be without a quorum and again unable to function.

Through numerous other measures and bills Republican lawmakers have put forward legislation to defund the board, to shut it down and to curtail its operations. They have also pursued a variety of often far-fetched legal challenges against board rulings they could not challenge on grounds of lack of a quorum or on grounds that the members who made the decision were “illegal” recess appointments.

“Progressives of all types understand the system is broken and that many nominations cannot get through the Senate despite majority support. Working people know that a full-strength NLRB is the first step to justice on the job,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “They’re fed up, they’re fed up with the gridlock, and they want their senators to make a difference.”

He urged everyone to call their senators at 1-888-264-6154 to demand that they confirm the president’s board nominations now.

Photo: Facebook pageForum on Cablevision Labor Dispute with Congressional Democrats.  


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.