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CWA: Anti-Union Adelphia Wastes $

A labor union wants a bankruptcy court to investigate claims that Adephia Communications Corp. is wasting scarce resources to fend off union-organization efforts.

In an Aug. 25 motion, the Communications Workers of America told a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that "an investigation into the debtors' wasteful and divisive conduct towards its unions is demonstrably in the best interest of the estate."

Arguments are to be heard on the matter Sept. 16.

Adelphia responded with a statement affirming its respect for workers that choose to be represented by a union.

"The company believes, however, that the interests of its employees and the company are best served when there is a direct working relationship between management and employees," the statement said. "With that in mind, Adelphia works hard to cultivate a positive relationship with its employees by providing good benefits, fair compensation and a collaborative working environment."

The CWA represents about 500 hourly Adelphia employees in 12 locations.

In Morgantown, W. Va., CWA negotiations for a new contract started last October. When talks stalled, 40 workers struck on May 21. Threatened with permanent replacement, they returned to the job on June 11, according to the union.

During the walkout, the MSO brought in and housed workers from outside the system; ran anti-strike and job-fair ads; and paid incentives to workers who crossed the picket lines, the union claimed.

The CWA also calculated that Adelphia spent $320,000 on replacement workers and other expenses, while a 3% wage hike for those same workers would cost only $184,000 over three years.

That strike also prompted the union to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming Adelphia has failed to bargain in good faith.

The complaint also claims Adelphia pays higher wages to employees who quit the union than those offered to CWA members, and has transferred union jobs to a non-union customer-service facility.

CWA also referred to anti-union activities in Auburn, N.Y., even though that system is an International Brotherhood of Teamsters shop. Seventeen workers walked out 13 weeks ago. A handful have returned to work but the majority remain on the picket line.

Adelphia responded by hiring replacement workers, driving some of them past picket lines in a limousine.

Auburn workers have urged the city council to consider replacing Adelphia with a municipally owned-and-operated system. Adelphia has a two-year franchise extension that expires in October.

Dissidents are also loudly pointing to Adelphia shortfalls, striker Linda Leather said. For example, when the company's high-speed data service was swamped by a recent computer virus, there were few technicians to aid Auburn users and restore high-speed service, she said.