Internet Service Provider Duopoly Millionaire Strikebreaker

I’ve got to write and post this quickly, my internet has been out all day so far, as it was most of yesterday, only winking back on a few minutes ago during a long call with Spectrum tech support. While on hold I learned, and passed on to Ron, the good-natured Spectrum rep, that Tom Rutledge, the great and important CEO of Spectrum’s parent company, a guy who made $98.5 million in 2016 when his outfit bought Time Warner Cable, is still refusing to negotiate with the technicians union, IBEW local No. 3, an outfit whose strike is in its second year.

Rutledge, in fairness to him and his principled refusal to negotiate with the lawfully constituted technicians’ union, is probably bitter at the vast drop in his income.  He made a mere $7,800,000 last year and his ungrateful technicians are bitching about giving up certain features of their health plan, retirement benefits and things like that.   It’s hard to blame Rutledge for being so intractable, unless you are the kind of person who is harsh to complete assholes.

Ron had no idea Spectrum technicians in New York were on strike, though he’d heard of vandalism in NYC.  I explained the difference between vandalism and acts of skilled sabotage by workers whose rights under the National Labor Relations Act seemed to be being violated.   I explained to him that in the old days workers who accepted bad pay to cross a picket line and break a strike were called bad names, including scabs, and that I was reluctant to let a strike breaking technician into my apartment to check a modem that doesn’t seem to be faulty, as it is currently working.  

Ron agreed the problem was not the modem, since it is getting a fine signal at the moment.   The problem could be in the “drop”, the box that splits off from the “node” for delivery into individual buildings.  The node serves 248 modems in my area, the drop might serve a dozen in my building.   There was no way for him to monitor activity on my “drop”, though only 10 of 248 modems on my node are currently offline.  If you are wondering why I don’t just switch to an ISP that is not so fucked up, I will tell you.

We have two ISPs in most of New York City, Spectrum (a branch of Charter, who bought the franchise from Time Warner Cable a few years back) and Verizon.  Both ISP giants provide substandard internet service, intermittent service, and, because the free competition we hear so much about only involves two giants in our free market, they are free to set whatever prices it pleases them to set for whatever service they see fit to provide.  I currently pay $50 a month for intermittent internet service from Spectrum, having grown tired of no service and repeated lies from Verizon.  Ron was somehow able to give me a double credit today for the hours last night into today that I had no service: a generous $3.33.

I have to contact the technicians’ union, IBEW local # 3 and get the latest on their strike against Spectrum, the internet provider with the handsomely compensated CEO, a chap who made over $100 million the last two years.  This wealthy titan will not negotiate with the union.  He does not believe in unions.  If he had his way, workers would not be paid at all. Think of how much more money he could make if all those wasted technician salaries, vacation days, health benefits, pension contributions were saved, clawed back, put into his tax-free investment portfolio!

I need to contact the IBEW and offer to help them publicize their strike.  They ran a great online ad a few months back, very compelling, but not a public word since.   Almost nobody knows about the status of the strike that strikebreaker CEO Tom Rutledge is doing his best to make go away.   I wonder how many are still on strike after more than a year, like Jewish children making a strong moral case to a Nazi. I want to support the union and I need the striking workers, if possible, to exempt my home from their sabotage of Spectrum’s never perfect, now never worse, service.

Spectrum told me yesterday that my modem is defective, that, for once, there is no outage in my area, on my node.   They will need to send scab technicians over to inspect it all, the modem, the interior connection, outside connectivity at the “drop”, issues relating to the entire node, etc. They gave me a generous $1.67 credit yesterday for a day without internet service (this outage must last, according to corporate policy, at least four consecutive hours to qualify for the refund). The modem I was assured yesterday must be broken, after hours of no service with no outages reported, is delivering a signal again now.   Ron assured me today it is very unlikely to be the modem.

Shades of the old runaround from Spectrum’s fellow duopolist ISP Verizon, who told me for months that there was a technical problem with my line and that they were working on it, that a technical team would contact me the following day. I was never contacted. The problem was not with my line, it was with the entire Verizon network, which was off-line for many months as they switched their network from copper wire to fiber. This required digging up streets, getting permits, burying fiberoptic cable, it took many months. A call to Verizon was the same bullshit, month after month. A complete lie.  The technical team will call you tomorrow, we have no idea why you have no service, now about that huge bill you keep refusing to pay…

If your only business is making profit, it would behoove you to lie if you might lose the bulk of your customers during the months they will have no service.  What self-respecting American business would admit something that would undoubtedly cause an exodus of customers?  Verizon billed me, month after month, for service I had not been receiving.  According to them, no refund was due until I paid in full.  They were demanding hundreds of dollars by the end.  Would it seem petty of me to call them Nazi motherfuckers?  Sure it would, they are just an American business trying to keep the lights on so that all Americans can enjoy a brighter day!



The modern world, my friends, where every war must be fought by propagandists who specialize in branding, messaging and targeted marketing, sometimes brings us, just fucking bullshit.

Pull up the IBEW information on their long-running strike against Charter/Spectrum, and here you go:

check us out, brothers and sisters

You can read about the neo-liberal asshole NYS Governor’s battle with the mega-corporation, complete with mealy mouthed almost-threats and a hint at support for a striking union that is a key political support group.  We have to go to Crain’s, in May 2018, for any kind of update on this shit?

Crain’s article

One comment on “Internet Service Provider Duopoly Millionaire Strikebreaker

  1. This made me laugh out loud: “They will need to send scab technicians over to inspect it all…” You should start an independent, renegade ISP.

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