Why Did Protesters Disrupt Cablevision’s Meeting?

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE:CVC) Chief Executive Officer James Dolan had to call police in order to have protesters from the Communications Workers of America ejected from the company’s annual meeting at its headquarters in Long Island, N.Y.

The Communications Workers of America is currently in a labor dispute with Cablevision that is now before the National Labor Relations Board. Dolan said he asked the protesters to leave several times before calling the authorities, and began the meeting by saying he’d answer questions about “anything but labor!”

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After the meeting, Cablevision issued a statement defending Dolan’s actions. “This is a shareholder meeting with a clear set of rules,” they said. “The CWA attempted to disrupt the meeting; they were asked to refrain, and when they did not, they were asked to leave. The matter is now in the hands of the authorities.”

The labor dispute between the CWA and Cablevision began last June when Cablevision employees in the Bronx made a landslide vote not to unionize. After some investigation, it was revealed that Dolan had threatened to deny job and training opportunities for workers who supported unionization. The NLRB also accuses Cablevision of making similar threats towards workers in Brooklyn. After the Brooklyn workers decided to unionize in early 2012, they were denied raises given to thousands of non-unionized Cablevision employees.

Chris Calabrese, the lead organizer in the CWA’s contract campaign for Cablevision workers in Brooklyn, slammed Cablevision’s labor practices. “Whether it’s interfering with a fair election in the Bronx, or refusing to sign a fair contract in Brooklyn, Cablevision’s behavior is despicable and shameful. There’s no excuse for any business to intimidate its workers in an effort to prevent them from exercising their right to organize and join a union.”

Cablevision has denied the charges, and Dolan has said that he’s looking forward to the upcoming NLRB hearing.

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