The Electrical Worker online
October 2013

After Legal Purgatory, N.J. Comcast Members Win Thousands in Back Pay
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In July, Comcast technician Brian Marshall got a check for more than $5,600 from the company, in addition to his regular wages.

The drawback? It took four years and a lengthy court battle to get it.

Marshall, a steward for East Windsor, N.J., Local 827, was part of the team that negotiated the most recent contract for workers at the Tom's River facility in 2009.

One of the contract provisions was a 5-percent pay increase for members who became broadband or "BBC" certified—a special designation for techs who passed rigorous tests to be able to install and maintain broadband-based products.

But when the next round of paychecks came, workers were stunned to learn the company instead submerged the BBC bonus into a separate 2.2-percent wage increase—effectively nixing the agreed-upon pay increase for more than 40 techs who earned the special certification.

"They deliberately tried to trick us," said Marshall, 52, who was part of a group of affected employees that filed a grievance to restore BBC back pay in 2009.

Two years later, Comcast and the local went to arbitration over the matter. In November 2011, an arbitrator ordered Comcast to award the members more than $160,000 in damages, averaging more than $3,500 per BBC tech.

Instead of paying, the company appealed the ruling for another year and a half and the parties ended up in a protracted civil court battle until last March, when a New Jersey district judge ruled, again, in favor of the workers.

Lump sum payments finally started arriving in late July, covering withheld wages from late 2009 through last December. In August, additional payments arrived, making the employees now financially whole.

Local 827 President Bob Speer said that if Comcast had won, it could have undermined the local—and, by extension, the IBEW as a whole.

"We owe a huge thanks to the members of the Comcast group for sticking with us during this frustrating process," he said. "It was good that members knew the whole time that we were fighting for them. They knew that nobody could have done this on their own—going to court against a large corporation and winning. There's no way this kind of victory could have happened for these workers if they didn't have an active union helping stand up for their best interests."

Marshall said that it feels like a weight has been lifted, but the four-year process has taken its toll.

"The bottom line is that Comcast is a healthy company that just doesn't want to pay its employees fairly," he said. "They aren't hurting from the recession. They've chugged right along with no down months. They deliberately tried to trick us and discredit the union—but it turned around on them."

USA Today reported in July that Comcast's second quarter revenue climbed 7 percent to 16.3 billion. Last year, company CEO Brian Roberts made $29.1 million in salary, benefits and stock options.

To learn more about Comcast workers fighting for a voice on the job, visit


East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 stewards Brian Marshall, left, Mike Pfancook, Jorge Reina, Tom Brown and Mike Mullen prevailed after a lengthy court battle with Comcast.