Bill de Blasio lends his name (and services as a moderator) to a union fight against Cablevision

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Bill de Blasio. (Azi Paybarah,via flickr)
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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, in an effort to reinforce his labor credentials in advance of the 2013 mayoral election, has offered to host a debate between AFL-CIO, which is seeking to unionize Brooklyn Cablevision workers, and Cablevision, which is seeking to stop them.

On Wednesday, January 4, Rolando Scott, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1109, part of the AFL-CIO, sent a letter to James Dolan, the Cablevision C.E.O., Knicks owner and Cuomo donor and advisory-board appointee, inviting him or his designated representatives to an "open, public debate over the merits of union representation" on Jan. 11.

"The New York City Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio has generously offered to moderate the debate," the letter said.

De Blasio has long been seen as vying with comptroller John Liu for the support of the unions in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primaries. The continuing federal investigations into his fund-raising efforts have made Liu less of a threat.

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Cablevision employees in Brooklyn are holding elections to decide whether or not to join the Communications Workers of America on Jan. 26. Union officials claim that Cablevision has been trying to suppress their organization efforts. In particular, Scott writes that, "Cablevision managers, expertly trained by the union busting law office of Jackson and Lewis, have held dozens of forced meetings with lawyers in an effort to sway them against supporting the Communications Workers of America. It is unfortunate that Cablevision has chosen to take the low road, by holding such one-sided meetings full of distortions misprepresentations and even threats."

In a statement, Cablevision spokesman Charlie Schueler said, "We are in receipt of the letter and will respond accordingly. We note that for nearly 40 years, Cablevision has provided an excellent workplace, including competitive salaries and benefits and a strong dedication to our employees. Underscoring Cablevision's strong desirability as a workplace, Cablevision's employees have consistently opted to retain their non-union status and deal directly with the company."