Midwest - Unions and Consumers
June 12, 2005
Truth Squad Exposes Comcast V.P. at Chicago Club Luncheon
Joe Stackhouse, Comcast's Senior Vice President, is a man about town in Chicago. Lately, however his entourage has included some angry union members who aren't cutting him any slack during his public appearances. In Illinois and northwest Indiana, IBEW members have teamed up with community organizations, religious groups and consumer activists to open up Comcast's policies to public scrutiny.
On May 11, Stackhouse was the guest speaker at a Chicago City Club luncheon held at a local restaurant. As he arrived, he was greeted by a large inflatable rat with his name scrawled across it, accompanied by IBEW members and activists in the Comcast Truth Squad. They were joined by members of the Chicago Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), UFCW, UNITE/HERE and others.
Activists handed out copies of No Bargain-Comcast and the Future of Workers' Rights in Telecommunications, a hard-hitting study and analysis compiled by the American Rights at Work organization to arriving guests
The restaurant offered Stackhouse no refuge. IBEW members and others, who had purchased tickets to the luncheon, rose to ask him, during question and answers , why a large rat was outside the building with his name on it. An observer says that Stackhouse turned "candy-apple red" as his picture was taken by media photographers with demonstrators providing the backdrop.
Comcast's Captive Audience Meeting Goes Awry in Indiana
On May 18, Comcast called a meeting for workers in the company's southern region at U.S. Steel Stadium in Gary, Indiana. As Vice President Joe Stackhouse rose to address the gathering of organized and unorganized Comcast workers, he was once again greeted by an inflatable rat. In this captive audience meeting gone awry, non-union employees could be seen laughing at the rat, taking its picture and applauding the IBEW truth squad.
The president of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor stopped by to offer the support of union members across northwest Indiana to Comcast workers.
Joe Stackhouse came unglued. He assigned one of his subordinates to call IBEW Business Representative Jerry Rankins, to ask him "what he was trying to accomplish." Local 21 President Ron Kastner heard the question and wondered out loud whether Comcast still isn't getting the message from the troops: WE WANT A FAIR CONTRACT AND WE WANT IT NOW!
Comcast Rolls Out New Products--Unions Roll Out Workers Rights Coffin
On May 26, Comcast rolled a large truck, outfitted with the latest telecommunications technologies, into the parking lot of its Merrillville, Indiana, facility to demonstrate new services to the surrounding community. A local radio station broadcast live from the site.
The telecommunications giant was upstaged once again as members of the IBEW Truth Squad, accompanied by members of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor carried a "Workers Rights Coffin." They spread the message that Comcast employees' wages are well below the industry standard, despite rate increases at three times the rate of inflation by the company over the last five years. Activists raised their voices to demand that Comcast representatives answer for their banner, which read, "Comcast--Focused On The Community." They chanted, "We're Fired Up and We Won't Take It Anymore!"
Is Comcast focused on affordable health care and fair wages," a union speaker asked, as working family supporters drove in cars decorated with signs saying, "Comcast Does Not Care," beeping their horns.