#PopeInPhilly: Comcast-owned NBC Universal Pushes Technicians, Photographers to Strike

As City Prepares To Welcome Pope Who Says “From Work Comes a Person’s Dignity”, Comcast-owned NBC Universal Pushes Technicians, Photographers On Strike

Only steps from the wide public thoroughfare where potentially millions of Catholic pilgrims and supporters will pray with Pope Francis this weekend, technicians and camera operators for NBC 10 Philadelphia, owned by the Philadelphia-based Comcast corporation, told the public they were going out on strike, after over a year at the bargaining table.

As twenty-year veteran station employees stood outside talking with fellow Philadelphia residents and curious visitors attending the World Meeting of Families, Comcast hosted a luxury catered buffet for local and visiting members of the press corps covering the Pope’s visit.

Ken Agatone is a technical director at NBC 10 and a shop steward working with his fellow employees as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 98, and a leader at the negotiating table.  He said he’s a faithful Roman Catholic raising four children, including one daughter living with disabilities, who requires full time care and supports.

“Ten years ago, my job was done by 9 people.  Now I do all of that work,” said Mr. Agatone. “I love this pope and the way his message cuts through.  People should understand this strike is about the people bringing Philadelphia in depth local coverage having dignified, middle class jobs.”

Approximately 65 technicians and photographers have joined the strike, beginning on the third day of the World Meeting of Families, and at the same time the Comcast corporation is negotiating another potential 15-year cable and communications franchise with the City of Philadelphia.  The CAP Comcast coalition, organized by Media Mobilizing Project, includes a platform for protecting Comcast workers and consumers as a part of the resources they want City Hall to secure out of another almost-monopoly deal with the Fortune 50 company.

“Comcast and NBC Universal’s management style of caring for the community is a hoax,” said Neil Brango, a 26-year veteran of NBC 10 and another member of the negotiating committee working to secure a fair contract for the 65 photographers and technicians. “They provide an atmosphere of hostility for all workers.”

Brango described the deep dedication news teams and technicians have to their jobs. “We work late shifts, holidays. We’re very dedicated employees who don’t want anyone to lose coverage.  But we’ve given everything NBC has asked us to.  The company’s disrespect for their own employees made this happen.  We’re waiting to sit back at the negotiating table, to come to a fair agreement.”

Comcast is known nationally for anti-worker and anti-consumer behavior.  Comcast purchased NBC Universal, including affiliates like NBC 10, in 2011.  NBC 10’s newsrooms will move to Comcast’s new Innovation

When asked how Philadelphians looking at another 15-year franchise with Comcast should react to the news of this strike, Ken noted, “Technology is moving at lightning speed these days.  For customers wanting a fair, fast broadband rate and cable prices, think about this – if Comcast treats its own family that way, how well will they treat you, their customers?”