Cable workers communicate

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — “We’ll be back!” was the cry of the 100 members of the Communication Workers of America, joined by supporters from Jobs With Justice, as they wrapped up an informational picket line at a Comcast technical center Oct. 6 in this Detroit suburb. The majority of workers here have expressed an interest in joining the CWA, the union says, but the company has used intimidation, fear tactics and closed-door brainwashing meetings to stop the union organizing drive.

As the workers marched, Teamsters driving semis and construction equipment, and autoworkers and office workers driving home blew their horns in support.

Comcast is finally bargaining with the union at its Detroit facility, according to a CWA spokesperson. Even though 90 percent of the Detroit workers had voted union, Comcast held the union off, going to court time after time and firing several workers on phony charges. The delay was finally brought to a halt when the Detroit City Council, which has jurisdiction over cable contracts, threatened to cancel Comcast’s franchise unless the company agreed to bargain with the union.

During the Council’s public hearing, many Detroit citizens complained about Comcast’s poor service. It was revealed that Comcast charged more for the same service in the city, with a majority African American population, than in the majority-white suburbs.

“Every 23 minutes a worker is fired or penalized in our country for supporting a union,” a Jobs with Justice supporter said on the picket line. “This points to the need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would require employers to recognize a union if the majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation,” explained the activist, a retired auto worker. The AFL-CIO and Jobs With Justice are calling rallies across the country on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, because the freedom to form unions is among the human rights recognized by this United Nations declaration.