“Today’s The Day, I Hope, That Wakes Up The Sleeping Giant: Thousands Rally In New York For Fair Contract For Charter Workers
Out on strike since march of this year, nearly two thousand electrical workers in New York are stepping up the pressure this afternoon in their fight against telecommunications giant Charter Communications. Dozens of other unions and community groups joined International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 Monday afternoon for a massive march and rally. Negotiations stalled over the company’s refusal to make any offers unless the workers give up their union pension and health care plans.
Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson:
[Chris Erikson]: “The company is refusing to negotiate anything if the union does not concede to their demand to eliminate those benefits. They’ve bought and paid for these benefits over forty years. Every time the company settled a contract and offered 3% each year, the members had to allocate some of that to improve the pension or cover the medical, they’ve done that. So far as we’re concerned, they own these benefits. With a company that has a CEO that made 98 million dollars last year and is basically trying to starve my numbers into submission.
This isn’t only about them. This is about the middle class. This is about everything that’s at risk and I hope today is a day that starts the battle for workers in this country to get the respect that they deserve and to share the wealth that has been shifted so unfairly to the top one percent here. They envision Walmart wages and right-to-work states. That’s not anything to aspire to. And, so, today we fight for all workers…. It’s going to take a campaign to bring his company to the table, to make them understand and hopefully they’ll capitulate and recognize how important this is to their employees. And they could end this strike tomorrow if they could just get off the dime over this issue. Today’s the day, I hope, that wakes up the sleeping giant.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was among those addressing the crowd:
[Richard Trumka]: “I’m proud of my brothers and sisters at local three, every one of them, for going on strike, because it takes guts and it’s a tremendous sacrifice. And I’m encouraged by all the unions and other groups that are out here today, public and private, big and small, standing together, fighting together, winning together! This is what solidarity’s all about…We’re the labor movement and no one pushes us around! No one! United we stand, divided we fall! An injury to one is an injury to all! They won’t injure Local 3 without taking all of us on! God bless you! Keep up the fight!”