Strike Blamed For Vanadalism, Cable Service Outages


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio were facing criticism Monday for taking part in a rally supporting striking cable workers.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, critics said the politicians are ignoring customer complaints.

Thousands of union workers rallied in both Downtown Brooklyn and Foley Square in Lower Manhattan in Monday, in support of the striking Spectrum cable workers.

Cuomo and de Blasio are offering fiery rhetoric.

“It’s about respect and fairness,” Cuomo said.

But the residents and businesses on Austin Street in Forest Hills, Queens want fairness and respect too. It is one of many neighborhoods hit by massive outages in their cable, internet and phone services when the workers walked off the job on March 28.

There have been about 100 attacks on the fiber optics system – acts of vandalism that have left thousands and thousands inconvenienced since the strike began.

“I own an online business and I own the retail store,” said business owner Anthony Velez.

Velez owns Bagriculture, which was unable to conduct business when the service went out. He was also unable to access his security system, and he is furious that Cuomo and de Blasio are supporting the workers and ignoring his plight.

“I don’t think that shows the right ethics that we would look for in our mayor, or a governor,” he said.

He said politicians treat business owners as “little invisible people.”

“I don’t think there’s a lot of people who care about small business owners,” Velez said.

And he is not alone in his frustration with the mayor and the governor.

“They’ll march with anybody who can vote,” said Stan Bentz. “They may not believe in what they’re doing.”

“I assume there’s some kind of money involved,” said Bareburger manager Adam Bariando. “As a person who campaigned talking about the people; the working class, I would expect him to side with us.”

Kramer also tried to ask the mayor what he would say to people who do not have cable service. De Blasio did not acknowledge the question.

A spokesman for the company pointed out that as of Monday, the cables have been cut 137 times since the strike began. The fiber optics went out only five times before that.

Spectrum workers said they are striking over wage and pension benefits.