The Electrical Worker online
March 2013

Record Profits at Comcast,
But Workers Hit Harder on Health Care
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The cold gray of winter may be upon the Northeast, but for many at Comcast, it's all sunny skies. Company profits aren't just up — they're at record-setting levels.

"As I reflect on the last year, the growth and evolution of Comcast … has transformed us into a Fortune 50 company," writes Kevin Casey, Comcast Northeast Division President, in a Jan. 2 email to employees thanking them for their on-the-job expertise. "[A]nd for the first time, the market value of the company reached $100 billion."

That puts Comcast's value higher than heavyweights like McDonald's, Home Depot or Disney.

But for thousands in the field who install and maintain Internet, cable and phone services for customers nationwide, the company's fiscal milestone arrived with yet another steep hike in employees' health care costs.

"Employees are going to be paying $452 per month this year for their families' health care," said IBEW organizer Steve Smith, who is working to help organize Comcast employees in the Northeast. "You have to ask yourself — if Comcast is making so much money, why can't they do better for those doing the hard work that helps make the company so successful?"

Citing figures Smith obtained from numerous Comcast employees, the new health care rates have more than doubled over the last four years. In 2010, workers paid $212 per month for coverage — and that figure has grown each year despite the company's added profits.

At the same time, U.S. health care inflation rose just 17 percent since 2010, according to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Had the workers' out-of-pocket expenses held steady with those averages, Comcast techs would now be paying $248 for their family health plans — as opposed to the $452 they are paying now.

In addition to the higher costs, workers' wages haven't been able to close the gap. In many cases, any raises employees received had been nullified once the newer, higher health care costs kicked in.

"I've spoken with employees who have actually sat down and done the math comparing wages and health care cost increases," Smith said. "Many are finding that even after they get a raise, they're taking home less because out-of-pocket medical expenses keep taking bigger bites.

"This [cost increase] shows that the hard-working men and women who help keep Comcast running need more strength at the bargaining table — and that's only going to come by organizing more and more workers," Smith said.