The Electrical Worker online

November 2017

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
A Tale of Two Companies

The back page of this month's Electrical Worker is about a major rally the New York City labor movementmajor rally the New York City labor movement sponsored early in the fall in solidarity with striking Charter cable workers.

These employees, members of New York Local 3, have been on strike since March because of the company's refusal to give up its efforts to slash retirement benefits and force employees to bear most of their health care costs.

This is not a company in financial trouble. Far from it. Charter is one of the most successful companies in the telecommunications industry. Its CEO, Tom Rutledge, earned $98.5 million in pay last year, making him the country's highest-paid CEO.

Charter's efforts to squeeze its own employees has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with corporate greed. Greed that hurts workers and customers alike — all in the interest of appeasing Wall Street speculators.

Charter is the poster child for bad corporate behavior, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Around the same time Charter workers were marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, across the river in Manhattan, IBEW negotiators were finalizing a new three-year contract with CBS.

And the approach taken by CBS management could not be any more different.

Labor and management were able to sit down and openly talk about the issues that mattered to both sides and eventually come to a mutually beneficial agreement that boosted wages and benefits, while providing stability and fairness for the company.

And it won praise from IBEW members as well as CEO Leslie Moonves.

What we achieved at CBS is indicative that the low-road approach to labor-management relations taken by Charter cable is not the only option for corporate America.

There is a different model, practiced by the IBEW and our employer partners across the United States and Canada. One that prioritizes building a healthy working relationship and investing in employees — not treating them as the enemy. And one that judges success over the long term, not just by the latest gyrations in the stock market.

As we've seen at CBS and many other companies represented by the IBEW, it's an approach that works.

We will never give up standing up to corporate bullies like Charter. But we will also never stop spreading the message to corporate America that there is another way.


Also: Cooper: A Win for Workers Everywhere Read Cooper's Column

Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President