Thursday, March 20, 2008

Comcast - The Wal-Mart of the telecommunications industry...

Some have called Comcast the Wal-Mart of the telecommunications industry. The company is notoriously anti-union. According to government statistics, union workers on average earn 30% more than non-union workers. They are also much more likely to have retirement and health care benefits. But Comcast would like to turn this situation on its head. Since they took over AT&T Broadband in 2002, Comcast has consistently discriminated against the union workers they inherited from that merger. Union members at Comcast make 3 to 8 dollars an hour less than their non-union co-workers according to IBEW Local 21, which represents the organized Comcast employees in Chicago. They have also refused to sign a reasonable new contract with its union workers since last Summer. Union Comcast employees have been working without a contract for more than 6 months now.

Poor quality of service and ever increasing rates in many of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods has convinced many Comcast customers of the need to organize along with the Comcast employees. Area churches, concerned about the impact on Comcast workers and customers in their congregations have also joined in the fight. On last weeks Labor Express Radio program, I interviewed a couple of Comcast workers, and Jerry Rankin, Business Rep. for IBEW Local 21 about the state of the Comcast campaign. You can listen to that program online here…

Next Sunday’s program will include interviews with community members and pastors of South and West Side churches involved in the campaign.

A group of Chicago alderman, including Ray Suarez, Joe Moore, Leslie Hairston, and Freddrenna Lyle has also taken on the cause of the unionized Comcast workers. Last July, The City Council passed Resolution calling on Comcast to appear before the councils Committee on License and Consumer Protection, to determine if the company is in violation of its franchise agreement with the city of Chicago due to its discrimination against its union workforce. This hearing will be held this coming Wednesday.

Two important events are planned in the next month that organizers are calling on all Chicagoans to participate in…

Monday, March 24th – 7:00 PM – Christian Valley Baptist Church – 1237 S. Homan, Chicago: Rally in support of Comcast workers and customers.
Call Rev. Hood for more details… (773) 527-8514

NOTE DATE CHANGE > April - EXACT DATE TBA – 11:00 AM – City Hall – 121 N. LaSalle: Committee on Consumer License and Protection will decide if Comcast is in violation of its franchise agreement with the city.

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