With most media and entertainment companies in cutback mode due to the coronavirus, Charter Communications has promised not to implement layoffs or furloughs for at least the next 60 days.
The No. 2 U.S. cable operator and a major supplier of broadband internet access said it is making the promise as part of an “ongoing commitment to its employees.” In a press release, the company said its goal is “to reassure our employees during this unprecedented time that we are facing together as a company and a nation.”
Monday’s news follows earlier moves by Charter, including a permanent wage increase for all hourly workers from $15 to $20 over the next two years. Frontline field and customer operations employees will see an immediate increase of $1.50 an hour and an additional $1.50 starting March 2021, in addition to an annual merit increase. Enhanced health benefits and COVID-19-related flexible work time are also in the mix.
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“These employees are providing the critical services that allow for uninterrupted internet, telephone and TV news for more than 29 million customers, including lifeline institutions like hospitals, first responders and government facilities,” the company said. “We are grateful for their around-the-clock work supporting and maintaining our customers’ residential and business connectivity needs during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. At Charter, we will continue to support our employees as we navigate together the competing demands placed on all of us during this pandemic.”
Notwithstanding the latest overture to employees, Charter remains at an impasse with a small subset of its workforce. About 1,800 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 in Brooklyn has been on strike against Charter since March 2017. At issue is a planned replacement of union health insurance and pension plans with company benefits.
Investors have come to regard pay-TV and broadband distributors like Charter as a decent bet during this tumultuous time for the stock market and the broader economy. The company’s stock was up 1% to about $505 in mid-day trading Monday. After cratering in March, shares have returned to within striking distance of their 52-week high of $546.54.
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