New report documents questionable behavior and implications for telecom industry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2004
202-822-2127, ext. 111
Washington, DC -- Comcast complements its public image of business
acumen and industry dominance with a professed "pro-employee"
commitment. However, its employees who attempt to form unions or
engage in collective bargaining recognize a gap between the company's
words and its actions. As Comcast corporate leaders harness
technological advancements to expand their market share and increase
profitability, employees across the country report that they must
routinely perform more work without comparable growth in compensation,
navigate unsafe working conditions, and endure the arbitrary
application of unfair evaluation processes. When Comcast workers
attempt to address their concerns by forming unions or negotiating new
contracts, their efforts often are met with terminations, indefinite
delays in contract negotiations that freeze wages and benefits for
years, and the movement of jobs from union shops to non-union
Those are among the findings of No Bargain: Comcast and the Future of Workers' Rights in Telecommunications,
a study by American Rights at Work, a new workers' rights advocacy
group based in Washington, DC. The report's conclusions are based on
an exhaustive review of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records
and interviews with former and current Comcast employees.
With 70 percent of cable and broadband subscribers in the top 20
markets, Comcast is the undisputed cable industry leader. The company
employs 68,000 workers in the U.S. who serve customers in 35 states and
the District of Columbia; and, grows larger and wealthier each year.
Since the mid-20th century, the telecommunications industry has earned
a solid reputation of providing higher paying, semi-skilled jobs and
offering long-term security to its employees. Yet, as Comcast
continues to dominate the market and expand its services, the
industry's standing as a source of middle class jobs is at risk.
"This report documents appalling practices that are routine at
Comcast," said American Rights at Work Chair David Bonior. "The cable
giant is making enormous profits at the expense of its workers, and
blocking unions that could prevent this exploitation from continuing."
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that full-time telephone workers,
a highly unionized workforce, earn $48,110 per year on average, while
cable workers performing similar duties average earn an average of
$34,756 per year. "Thanks to technological advancements, Comcast is
poised to become a major provider of telephone services through Voice
Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)," said American Rights at Work Research
Director Julie Martínez Ortega. "If Comcast deflates wages and
degrades working conditions in the broader telecommunications industry,
even more workers and their families will regress economically."
No Bargain includes cases of workers across the country
and their personal experiences with the company. "It's hard when you
can't negotiate a raise for three-and-a-half years, especially when you
see Comcast giving raises in non-union shops," said Chicago-based
Comcast worker Kevin Beallis.
"It's very hard sometimes," agreed former Comcast employee Stephen
White of Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC. "I was fired
because a manager overheard me speaking to an employee about our plans
to get started on the organizing drive. They said it was due to poor
job performance. But when we first started this union campaign, they
tried to buy me out with a raise. They thought they could silence me."
According to No Bargain:
- In the greater Chicago area, Comcast managers moved 195 jobs
from a union-represented facility to non-union locations. In Dallas,
Comcast management moved 100 jobs. A total of 125 jobs were moved in
- In Pittsburgh, the NLRB issued a complaint against
Comcast for illegal behavior that allegedly occurred the month before
decertification elections at several worksites.
- In Salt Lake
City, Comcast gave a market increase in pay to all employees except
those who were in union-represented bargaining units. The union filed
Unfair Labor Practice charges, and the NLRB issued a complaint against
- In the metropolitan Washington, DC area, the NLRB
received six Unfair Labor Practice charges against Comcast this year
for terminating five employees and discriminating against one for union
"The employees of Comcast, like all other American workers, want and
need access to forms of participation and representation in corporate
decision making beyond those provided under the National Labor
Relations Act," wrote MIT's Thomas A. Kochan in the No Bargain
preface. Said American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth
Maxwell, "We're calling on Comcast to live up to their promises and
public praise. Respect the right of workers to form unions. Begin to
bargain diligently with your union-represented workers. It is the right
thing to do, an economically feasible thing to do, and, most
importantly, an inherently American and democratic thing to do."
NOTE: No Bargain: Comcast and the Future of Workers' Rights in Telecommunications is available online . Download the report (PDF: 24 pages, 316 kb).