Fired Comcast worker's story ignites new campaign in Philly

[CWA announcement]

A Comcast employee fired during a CWA organizing campaign at an Oakland, Calif., call center told his story to religious leaders and other activists last week in Philadelphia — Comcast's hometown — to encourage them to put pressure on the company to restore his own job and treat other workers fairly.

Philadelphia Interfaith Worker Justice, Jobs with Justice and the AFL-CIO helped make Will Goodo's trip possible. Since then, AFL-CIO Senior Organizer Frank Synder said, church leaders and other activists have begun sending letters to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Goodo spoke with individuals and groups, with some of his audience accustomed to Comcast's anti-union tactics and others "legitimately surprised that this is their neighbor and this is how their neighbor conducts its corporate business," Synder said.

Goodo, who was working with CWA to try to organize fellow Comcast dispatchers, was fired in January, shortly after testifying against the company at an Oakland City Council hearing on Comcast's cable franchise. Comcast claims he was fired because of a customer complaint — a problem both Goodo and the customer say never happened.

The faith community and the AFL-CIO reached out to Comcast leaders in Philadelphia, asking for a meeting with Goodo while he was in town. He was refused. Instead, Charisse Lillie, the company's senior vice president for human resources, sent a low-level employee to the lobby to accept papers Goodo brought with him. Those included a letter from the customer involved saying he never complained about Goodo.

Snyder said the Philadelphia activists reached out to Goodo because Comcast's behavior can't be tolerated or all workers will suffer. "Anytime a worker is discharged for what we allege is union activity, it's the most heinous of crimes in our world," he said. "These are the people we really have to go to bat for. Otherwise, people will look at organizing and the risks involved and probably think twice."

Synder said the activists in Philadelphia want "to hold Comcast accountable to a moral and ethical standard." An adverse ruling in Goodo's case at the regional level of the National Labor Relations Board is being appealed by CWA to the full NLRB.

Goodo said he's read online accounts of many employees' battles with Comcast and other union-busting companies and hopes "I can be a voice for all the people that can't speak up."

He noted the personal irony of being fired after speaking his own mind. "I served my country for 17 and a half years in the Navy and I never thought I would come back to my own country and not have the freedom to say what I want to say," he said.

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