The New York Knicks may be 2-5 early in this NBA season, but for team owner and Cablevision executive James Dolan, the biggest opponent on the radar may be the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
On Nov 6, the NLRB charged Dolan with illegally threatening to withhold employee pay unless the employees voted against joining a union. The NLRB’s complaint also claims that Dolan illegally set up the vote in order to combat the influence of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) within his company.
Three years ago, Cablevision technicians agreed to join the CWA by a vote of 180 to 86. However, since that time, the company and the union have not been able to come to a contract. In 2013, the labor board said that Cablevision was bargaining in bad faith.
In its complaint, the CWA claimed that Cablevision offered raises between $2 and $9 per hour to nearly 17,000 employees if those employees would vote against representation.
“It’s time for public officials to make clear to James Dolan that just because he’s a billionaire, he doesn’t get to supersede the law or trample on workers’ rights. Brooklyn Cablevision workers deserve equal pay, the respect of having their federally protected labor rights honored, and a fair contract,” said Chris Shelton, president of CWA District 1, following the decision.
In a statement to the New York Times, Dolan says that the NLRB issued unfair charges and were too quick to believe the statements of the CWA. “The NLRB has turned into a tool of Big Labor,” Dolan said.
In addition, Cablevision said in a statement, “We are outraged but not surprised by the one-sided finding,” and later added, “The NLRB regional office led by Director [James] Paulsen should be serving as a trusted government body with an open mind, but instead acts to advance the CWA’s agenda.”
This is not the first confrontation between Cablevision and the NLRB. In April 2013, the NLRB charged Cablevision with illegally firing 22 workers, claiming that the company also spied on and bargained in bad faith with those workers. The NLRB also fielded complaints from a Bronx shop that said Cablevision was harassing and intimidating employees during a union representation election. Both cases have not yet been settled.