Wildcat Strike Leads to Big Win for Cablevision Contract Workers
Last month, 60 workers at a Brooklyn Cablevision contractor, Falcon Data Com, went on a wildcat strike after one of their colleagues was fired for union organizing.
“I was one of the primary organizers and I was in the shop handing out union cards and the manager saw me, called me in the office and they said that my ID had expired and they were choosing not to renew it and to have a nice life, basically,” Kirk Collins explained.
He quickly reached out to the Communications Workers of America local he'd been organizing with and his colleagues at Falcon, and 60 of them went out on strike. The strike lasted just a couple of hours, as management quickly caved and rehired not just Collins, but two other Falcon techs who'd been fired for union activity in previous weeks. “We banded together, and we were able to shut the shop down,” Collins said. “It shows the strength of unity and having a common cause.”
On Friday, the workers at Falcon voted 53 to 5 to join CWA Local 1109, joining 282 Cablevision workers who voted for a union in January; Bronx Falcon workers have a vote coming this week, and another Cablevision contractor, Vision Pro, is also expected to have a union election soon.
The technicians were working 12 to 14 hours a day, according to Collins, with no overtime, no holiday pay, and getting paid piece work rather than an hourly wage. But it's not just wages that drove him to start agitating for a union at his workplace. “We were being made to fuel up the company's trucks every morning with our own money,” he said, and they had no running water (during a heat wave, no water fountain) and only a porta-potty rather than a real bathroom.
“We'll be looking for some quality now, and a decent living wage in this economy,” Collins said.