After speeches from Trumka and others, the crowd will cross the Brooklyn Bridge and continue the rally in Foley Square, near City Hall.
The 1,800 members of Local 3, who have walked picket lines since contract negotiations broke down in late March, won’t be alone, organizers said.
“I think it’s going to be a big event. We’ve made an appeal to many affiliates, and they are going to respond,” Chris Erikson, business manager of Local 3, told the Daily News.
It’s part of a major effort by Local 3 to move the needle on its stalled contract talks with Charter — which broke down when the company insisted it was going to pull out of the union’s pension and health care funds.
Instead of fully covered employerfunded health care and a defined-benefit pension, the company has offered raises and a matching 401(k) plan.
“They basically said that until we agree that they don’t have to contribute to our pension and health plan, they won’t talk about anything else,” Erikson said. “That’s a gun to our head. They said, ‘Take it or leave it.’ And our membership understands the value of what’s at stake here, and they decided to leave it.”
A spokesman for the cable giant declined to address that description of its position directly, but said the company was always willing to come to the table.
“Charter is offering Local 3 a generous compensation package that includes an average 22% wage increase — some employees up to a 55% wage increase — and comprehensive retirement and health benefits, including a 401(k) that provides a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6% of eligible pay,” the company said in a statement.
Mario Cilento, head of the state AFLCIO, said Monday’s event would be a “symbol of unity,” that would continue after the rally ended.
Local 3 hopes to encourage that momentum nationally with a new strategy targeting Charter service centers around the country, Erikson said.
“We’re talking to the IBEW leadership about doing leafleting and organization drives in 41 states where Charter operates,” he explained.
The union has also hired a public relations firm to begin a media blitz — a pushback at the image-polishing TV commercials Charter began running at the start of the strike.
There’s also talk of asking the AFLCIO to add the communications company to its boycott list, Erikson said.
In the city, IBEW is planning to amplify its message through the support of other unions — many of whose members are Charter consumers.
Already, the head of the Public Employees Conference — which represents 84 municipal unions across the state and city — pledged its backing for Monday’s event.
Other major city unions, including the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council — which donated $125,000 to the Local 3 strike fund — are encouraging members to show up.
They’re prodded by more than the typical union solidarity, said Public Employees Conference leader Peter Meringolo.
“This is not just about Local 3 and its contract fight, although we support them. More is at stake,” said Meringolo, a veteran of the labor movement.
“In my view, this is a fight for the existence of unions and against corporate greed. For companies to demand that it be their way or no way is not collective bargaining. That’s collective begging — and we’re not going to beg,” he said.
Unlike many unions’ defined-benefit pension plans across the country, IBEW’s is in good financial shape, records show.
It’s 80% funded, according to the union, and is not among the critical or failing plans listed on the U.S. Labor Department’s website.
The plans have worked well for the past 40 years, said Erikson, and while members don’t make contributions to them, they have paid into them.
“The company in the past has given us collectively bargained packages of 3% raises — and when money had to be paid into the funds, the company would take it from those raises,” he said. “The workers have paid for these benefits — which, by the way, also cover our retirees.”
According to Local 3, it would cost Charter roughly $150 million in liability payments to sever its obligations.
“They’ve said that’s not a problem. The contract could be settled for a fraction of that. That’s how bad they want out of this plan,” Erikson said.
In launching a national campaign against Charter, Local 3 is also hoping to whip up broad public support — which hasn’t been as vocal in the city as many in the union expected, in part because of a lack of publicity.
“I think people are tired of the middle class getting its ass kicked by corporations where the CEO makes $98 million,” Erikson said, “and I hope this march becomes a tipping point.”