Oakland, N.J., Altice Workers Vote for Union

Altice USA workers in Oakland N.J., narrowly voted for IBEW representation on March 1, making it one of the few union shops in the cable operator’s footprint.

Electricians, technicians and warehouse workers at Altice’s Oakland, N.J. facility vote 49-46 in favor of representation from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – Local 827. According to the National Labor Relations Board, about 100 employees at the shop were eligible to vote, with 95 casting ballots. Oakland is the second Altice USA shop to approve union representation – its Brooklyn, N.Y., facility which has about 300 workers is represented by the Communications Workers of America.

Unionization has been a hot topic for Altice USA ever since it said it would transfer its field service, construction & fiber, design, outside plant maintenance, inside plant and field-based employees serving commercial accounts to a separate company, Altice Technical Services USA. That transition began in February with Optimum employees and is continuing through April, with sources saying a large majority of workers electing to move over to ATS. Altice USA has stressed that ATS would afford workers more opportunities for advancement and training, while unions have warned it could enable the company to circumvent pledges to keep its employee rolls constant.

So far, the unions have had little luck. Altice USA employees in the Bronx, N.Y.; and Piscataway, N.J. voted down CWA representation in January. The CWA has withdrawn petitions to unionize in Brooklyn (for workers it doesn’t already represent), West Nyack and Hawthorne, N.Y.; and the IBEW has done the same in Newark, N.J.

“We are disappointed that a small group of Oakland, N.J. employees narrowly voted for IBEW union representation in what was an extremely close election, and we are assessing our options regarding the outcome,” Altice USA said in a statement. “This is a time of tremendous opportunity for our company, and Altice USA strongly believes that a direct relationship with our employees promotes an environment of trust, respect and collaboration, which ultimately drives a superior experience for our customers.”