Blog June 25, 2018

Charter’s Unwavering Commitment to its New York Workforce

 At Charter, two top priorities are providing customers with the best service possible, and ensuring our employees enjoy fair wages and benefits and pathways to fulfilling careers. Every day our employees are helping New Yorkers get faster Internet speeds and gain access to new technologies, and they work around the clock to connect more communities with high speed broadband.

Today, New Yorkers enjoy some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country, with minimum speeds of 100Mbps or 200Mbps. Spectrum Internet Gig – which delivers a 1 Gbps connection to customers’ homes – is available in a growing number of New York communities. Additionally, with Spectrum Internet Assist, we are bringing low-cost, high speed broadband to low income seniors, students and their families across the state, and our Spectrum Learning Labs – we have over two dozen – are bringing digital literacy to neighborhoods across New York City.

Charter is committed to helping New Yorkers every day, which is why we have continuously acted in good faith with Local 3 to reach a new contract and provide bargaining unit employees in New York City and Northern New Jersey with better opportunities and a brighter future.

Charter did not want this strike and made multiple attempts to resolve it, but the union has not been a true partner in negotiations. With Local 3 refusing to even discuss the terms in Charter’s offer, we moved forward last summer and implemented wage increases and other worker benefits. Today we are putting more money into our employees’ pockets, providing them with excellent benefits, and making substantial investments to shore up their retirement benefits that are in jeopardy.

Recently a petition for decertification was filed by our employees with the NLRB.  Charter did not initiate this and is not in control of this effort. While we do not know what the outcome of the decertification process will be, one thing that remains certain is Charter’s commitment to investing in our high skilled, diverse workforce and to serving our customers in New York.

This commitment has underscored Charter’s position throughout this strike. While we have believed from the start that these issues should be hashed out by the parties at the bargaining table and not in public, at this juncture, and with our business unjustifiably threatened as part of political gamesmanship, we think it is important to set the record straight.

There are five important facts to know about Charter’s good faith offer to the union:

  1. Charter’s proposal was more generous than what the union asked for. Its terms have Charter investing thousands of dollars more per employee than we would have under the union’s proposal. That’s right – this dispute was never about saving the company money; our offer was more generous to employees than the union’s terms.
  2. Charter offered immediate wage increases as high as 55% for most classes of employees and on average 22% across the bargaining unit. The union asked for 10% wage increase over the life of the contract.
  3. Charter offered starting wages of $17 per hour compared to $10 per hour under the previous contract; that’s 70% more for new, entry-level hires than under the previous agreement. At $17 per hour Charter’s entry level wage is $4 higher than the current minimum wage and $2 more than what the state’s new higher minimum wage will be next year. In comparison, Local 3 never made a proposal that ensured all Charter employees would earn New York’s minimum wage.
  4. Charter proposed to move employees from a medical and retirement plan in very poor financial condition into Charter’s 401(k) which has an industry-leading company dollar for dollar match up to 6% of the employees’ salary, and the same robust health benefits enjoyed by our other 95,000 workers across the country.
  5. Charter wasn’t comfortable continuing to pay into a benefits plan that isn’t likely to be around when many of our employees retire. The union’s medical plan has $550 million in assets and $6.2 billion in liabilities. Similarly, its pension plan is over $2 billion short to cover its current benefit liabilities. Charter is however, contributing millions of dollars to help shore up employees’ retirement benefits that are already vested.

Charter’s proposal had been on the table for months and we were hopeful Local 3 would embrace it.  With the strike having lasted over a year we were even willing to revisit certain elements of it.  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. As with our previous offers, Local 3 leadership rejected it out of hand.

Throughout this process, Charter has recognized our employees’ contributions to our company and we aim to make sure their futures are secure with sustainable, long-term generous wages, robust benefits and meaningful career opportunities.  We recently renewed contracts with two separate long-term IBEW bargaining units in Hawaii, a state with a strong labor presence like in New York.  Charter also recently entered into a similar agreement with the Teamsters in Hawaii. These agreements include employee participation in Charter’s 401(k) and medical plan and were a win-win for workers and the company.

These are the facts. Charter has come to the table with real, sustainable solutions that are good for our employees, their families, and our customers. We have repeatedly demonstrated our willingness and ability to partner with labor, a collaborative approach that Local 3 has steadfastly rejected.

With the decertification petition having been filed, we are looking forward and continuing our efforts to strengthen the communities we serve in New York by investing in our workforce and improving access to high speed broadband and to the digital tools New Yorkers need to succeed.