Comcast Sues Oakland

The city of Oakland, Calif., violated federal labor laws when it enacted an ordinance that would ease union organizing at the local cable company, according to a lawsuit filed by Comcast of California/Colorado LLC against the city.

The organizing activities the city of Oakland addressed in a Feb. 28 ordinance are the authority of the National Labor Relations Board, according to the March 24 suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

The suit also alleged that the ordinance is pre-empted by the Labor Management Relations Act and the due-process clause of the constitution.

The municipal ordinance, backed by the Communications Workers of America, compels Comcast Corp. to accept "card checks" to authorize a union, rather than a complete election with a secret ballot. With a card check, workers need only sign a card indicating that they'd like to authorize a union.

The CWA currently represents 75 of the 200 cable workers in Oakland.

"Comcast respects the choices that all of its employees make on the question of union representation,” said Andrew Johnson, vice president of communications for Comcast in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Some of Comcast’s' employee groups in Oakland already are represented by a union,” he added. “Others have chosen not to be. Comcast firmly believes that having a secret-ballot election, as opposed to open pressure for signature on cards, is the best process for employees to determine whether they want union representation.”