Instead of COVID-19 Hazard Pay, Spectrum Is Giving Its Repair Techs $25 Gift Cards To Closed Restaurants

from the ill-communication dept

Despite its obvious reputational problems, Comcast has actually been stepping up for its workers during the COVID-19 crisis, paying its employees hazard pay, allowing unnecessary personnel to work at home, and closing at least some of its retail locations.

Charter Spectrum, the nation's second biggest cable provider, is another story entirely.

The company spent much of last week dealing with a backlash among employees who say the company is putting both its employees and local customers at risk. Charter initially refused to let employees who didn't need to be in the company's offices to work from home, despite having the capability. Even in instances where there were positive COVID-19 tests at Charter offices, the company still initially refused to let employees work from home. Only when the press got involved did Charter begin to bend, and even then it's still not letting all non-essential workers work remotely.

Charter employees say they're not getting hazard pay or adequate protective gear to do installs in customer homes. Instead, the company apparently thought it would be a good idea to give them a gift card. Not just any gift card, mind you, but a $25 gift card to a restaurant they probably can't visit anyway:

"Spectrum technicians connecting cable and internet for customers during the coronavirus outbreak will receive a $25 gift card for a local restaurant as a "token of our appreciation" from management, after staff called for hazard pay and protective equipment.

“These gift cards never expire, so if you choose a restaurant that is currently not open, the card will remain valid for future use," read the Monday night internal staff email from Tom Adams, the executive vice president of field operations. "Please take some time out of your busy day to enjoy a meal and recharge."

How generous. Needless to say, employees aren't particularly impressed:

"Would you do it for $25?” asked a field technician from Irwindale, California, who asked to remain anonymous, along with the other technicians quoted in this story, to protect his employment. He called Spectrum management "vultures."

While most experts believe the internet should largely hold up under the strain of widespread COVID-19 quarantines, it's going to be hard to keep many residential broadband connections operational with management displaying such an incredible knack for incompetence and penny pinching.

Filed Under: cable, cable techs, covid-19, protecting workers
Companies: charter, charter spectrum


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:19pm

    Charter: "Can't breath? Here's a gift card".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:31pm

    They REALLY want that award...

    Gotta say, pricing lives at $25 a pop, that takes some serious dedication in being as reprehensible a person as you possibly can be, but damn if they aren't going above and beyond in showing just how low they can sink and how much complete and utter indifference they have towards the safety and well-being of both their customers and employees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:57pm

    The cynic in me says...

    I bet those gift cards have expiration dates that comes and goes before those restaurants reopen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:07pm

      Re: The cynic in me says...

      I mean, it says right in the article that they don't expire, but that's not really the point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 3:45pm

        Re: Re: The cynic in me says...

        Dang, I missed that.

        Gift cards are one of the best values, for the restaurant, simply because they are often never redeemed. The restaurant gets paid, but has no expenses. A closed restaurant has an even better chance of that card never being redeemed, expiration date, or not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:27pm

      Re: The cynic in me says...

      From the article:

      These gift cards never expire

      However the same does not apply to the restaurant.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 27 Mar 2020 @ 1:53pm

    So far $6.5 trillion is proposed to cure the coronavirus. How the coronavirus could be responsible for that much economic damage after a month into this in America is obviously ridiculous.

    Among the proposals are $100 billion to hospitals, $150 billion to state and local governments, $30 billion for education, $45 billion for critical infrastucture, $4.5 trillion to the Federal Reserve.

    The economy would be more efficiently stimulated if every Ametican was just given $20 thousand to spend as they needed and pleased. There would be some inflation either way. Everyone would not spend all of their money at the same pkace or on the same thing though. Some may buy a house, a car, property, travel, get married, have children, pay off debts, repair property and cars, buy technology, new furniture, plastic surgery, a vacation home, but it would definitely be far more stimulative than having local,state,federal governments and the Federal Reserve doling it out, or more likely, keeping it all for themselves!

    It is the fairest way to do it! It includes everyone, and it gives preferential treatment to nobody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:12pm

      Re:

      That's a really stupid idea, even dumber than giving $1200 to every taxpaying American.

      Instead of giving money directly to everyone, even those who don't need it, give a large chunk to bolster unemployment and actually replace most or all of people's lost salaries for as long as this shutdown lasts. As much as I'd like a free $20k from the government, or even $1.2k, I'm still gainfully employed are are countless others. The wealthy certainly don't need (any more) handouts. And the poor are better served with longer term solutions than a 1-time check even if that check covers a few months.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 3:02pm

        Re: Re:

        So to hell with the people who cant afford rent because they cant work eh?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2020 @ 8:40am

        Re: Re:

        Unemployment is rapidly growing and does not need to be "bolstered". Bolstering salary replacement programs, sure, but tying it to wealth in any way is a non-starter in the USA. Almost all such programs are tied to income, not wealth (welfare programs related to extreme poverty are an exception).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2020 @ 10:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Such cognitive dissonance...

          "Salary replacement" is, by nature, tied to wealth up to but not including the top few percent whose income isn't sourced through a payroll. With 3.3m+ new unemployment applications the system certainly does need to be bolstered in order to afford to pay even the standard fraction of the applicant's salaries. The government should and is doing something to improve on that.

          But handing out checks to those not actually affected by self-isolation? That's just dumb. It's a waste of resources. Put that money to better use where it's really needed. Namely, in the hands of those who were living paycheck to paycheck and now have no paycheck and no chance at earning another one for as long as this shutdown lasts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2020 @ 6:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "those not actually affected by self-isolation"

            And who might this be?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Kal Zekdor (profile), 29 Mar 2020 @ 11:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm perfectly capable of performing my job remotely. Even before this current situation, about half my time was remote work. That's now near 100%, but it hasn't been much of an impact. The same cannot be said for every sector. Public venues, such as restaurants, are some of the hardest hit, and have been laying off employees.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2020 @ 5:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              By "affected" I mean financially or in any other important way. Sure, we're all staying in our homes now and many are having a hard time finding toilet paper but in all ways that matter, a great many people aren't really impacted by this in any way that the government could make better.

              Even among this group most have elderly relatives who may well pass as a result of this virus. That, in itself, in an impactful event. Tragic, even. But sending out little checks to them when their income was unaffected is utterly pointless.

              Save the money for those who really need it. Feed it into the unemployment system.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2020 @ 9:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Salary replacement" is, by nature, tied to wealth

            No, not really. A huge part of the American population will never obtain wealth, even with large salaries (like $100,000/year). And the super-rich have ways of avoiding or minimizing taxable income, and have worked hard to ensure that people conflate wealth (assets) and income in public policy discussions.

            The middle-class wealthy ("millionaire next door" type) may have a strong correlation between income ("salary" / "salary replacement") and wealth, but I'll bet lots of them will have investment incomes low enough to qualify for assistance programs if they lose their jobs. It doesn't take a genius to see that primary residences escape means-testing and taxes in many/most states, and to maximize the various tax-sheltered retirement programs.

            With 3.3m+ new unemployment applications the system certainly does need to be bolsterer

            "System" here seems a reference to unemployment insurance, not "unemployment" (the state of not having a job).

            Put that money to better use where it's really needed. Namely, in the hands of those who were living paycheck to paycheck

            Why should people be rewarded for poor financial decisions, like living paycheck-to-paycheck? Assuming they had enough income that a prudent person would have been able to save.

            Anyway, it's a moot point, because few if any politicians have proposed asset-tested programs. Most of them, being part of the super-rich, have incentives to make people think "rich" refers to income.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Improbus (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:54pm

    Cash

    The ultimate gift card.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 5:40pm

    Charter employees say they're not getting ... adequate protective gear

    Perhaps it's time to pass a law ensuring occupational health and safety, with fines for companies that don't provide adequate protective gear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2020 @ 7:24am

    ISP Asshattery

    "...second biggest cable provider..."

    Charter: We're number two - we try harder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2020 @ 5:57pm

    Only a matter of time before a rival company lures ALL charters staff away to destroy their share price then buy them out for cheap....................

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 29 Mar 2020 @ 10:55pm

    No protection

    I work for spectrum and we are doing overtime. I havent personally seen management in the office since all this started. I'm starting to think they are working from home. I can't confirm that but everytime I go to the office at least 3 times a week I never see them. We still haven't got any protection and being sent on ridiculous jobs. Like adding a TV in the grarge or moving a modem to a different room just because the parent doesn't want to see the light blinking. Regardless of what job I go on all the customers come closer them 3ft away. I tell them repeatedly please step bavj but they never do. We are being forced to break social distancing at every job which makes no since. They're talking about getting hand sanitizer and gloves but make no mention of mask. Don't get me wrong I feel blessed to have a job and working extra hours but I had to purchase my own gloves and hand sanitizer and I bought mask but Iam almost postive we are told not to wear them. The only reason I say that is because there are no mention of mask in any of the emails .The only reason I want hazard pay is if I get sick at least my family will have a little extra money to help them if something should happen to me. We are entering at least 35 homes a week. The company I felt honored and proud to work for has broken my heart for seeking revenue over our health and safety.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2020 @ 1:58pm

      Re: No protection

      This is ridiculous if not for a lot of these technicians who is going to help supply the 60 days free internet that Spectrum is offering the public with school age kids? A gift card is not going to help a family if an email liter gets sick. Totally unthinkable!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:55pm

      Re: No protection

      Can confirm!
      My husband was sent to a job with positive Covid-19 persons inside, because (insert asshole customers name) is to arrogant, selfish, belligerent, entitled, and apparently stupid to listen to two simple instructions and press two buttons, over the phone. They demanded spectrum to send a tech to do it! And spectrum being the greedy fu*ks they are, will not risk upsetting said a$$hole and losing money, so no job is vetted, and my husband is sent to work in a Petri-dish. For SQUAT! Less then if he was laid off.
      Yes, my husband and every tech that works for these MONSTERS, are being forced into exposing themselves and their families so Catherine doesn’t have to be inconvenienced with a button or blinking lights, and Jon Smith has his uninterrupted free porn in his garage, now that the family is home. All for the bargain basement price of a 25 dollar gift card a week, that they probably got on discount, in bulk, that we can’t use, except at Taco Bell or dominos, as per everywhere else is not only closed, but nowhere near where we live!

      Thanks Spectrum, you pieces of $hat!

      Not only have you gutted the NYC union so they have no collective voice right now, changed your abysmal pay from weekly to bi-weekly, further straining cash flow from your meager wages here to save on payroll, destroyed their retirement plans, stopped paying automatic overtime on Sundays, and gutted our health care options, of course for more money, all at the starting pay of 10 dollars a fucking hour in NYC, as I’m sure you cash in on that tax break you get for hiring my husband, a veteran, whom you probably have a life insurance policy on at this point, you money grubbing, degenerate slobs! You also have customers, people, so selfish, narcissistic, entitled and stupid, they cant possibly understand why my husband does not want to not only risk his life, but his 61 year old diabetic mothers, or me, his asthmatic wife to this virus, for their comfort of not having to see a blinking light ... and they don’t even fu€!ing tip.

      Spectrum and the rest of you ungrateful entitled pos’s, you truly fuggin suck. This is how little BOTH sides value anything anymore. Nothing is sacred and everything has a price. In this case, almost a whole Taco a day! .62 cents extra an hour, that can only be spent at some $hatty fast food dump.

      Shame on spectrum and shame on their customers for being that inconsiderate and selfish!

      I’m just waiting for our commercial guys. You know, THAT commercial. 2 years from now, when you’re sitting at home, watching jimmy Fallon, it’ll appear...“were you deemed an essential employee, by spectrum, and forced to work under hazardous, potentially deadly conditions during the Pandemic of 2019-2020 for a Taco? You too are entitled to your fuggin hazard pay. Call now at 1-800-GimmeMyFugginMoney.“

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2020 @ 5:48am

    ?

    1.Is hazard pay, During a disaster that affects a large population, the same as price gouging?

    2.Instead of hazard pay, should the essential employees receive a bonus check after the disaster?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 7:39am

    Hazard pay

    Well if our government is making it mandatory to stay six feet apart but yet our customers refuse to then it makes impossible for us to be at a safe distance. That is considered to be unsafe. In 1918
    50 million died of the Spanish flu and the same requirement that are set in place. They didnt have cable/internet tech entering people home back them. The problem here is we aren't giving any protection from our company. We can spread Coronavirus house to house and not even know it. Are you Essential?

    You can't die from Price gouging but you can die from being forced to work in dangerous conditions with no protection so my answer is no!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2020 @ 8:13am

    The 3 options worldwide now are:
    a. lay off
    b. work from home
    c. essential - i.e. work like normal, as if Coronavirus doesn't exist
    I'm at work now as well, so I feel your pain. I'd much rather have the option to work from home, but in this current job, I don't.
    Is your answer "no" to both questions?

    My plan is to further my education, so that I don't have to continue working in this lowest rung of IT.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 8:53am

    Work from home

    allowing unnecessary personnel to work at home... not letting all non-essential workers work remotely

    Are you saying people who can work from home are non-essential or unnecessary? Or was that just a clumsy choice of words?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 9:46am

    Hazard pay

    Hazard pay and price gouging are not the same?
    You can die from working in hazardous conditions but not from rice gouging.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 9:58am

    3 options???

    Do be honest I've never heard of the 3 options ??
    Options means you have a choice. We dont have a choice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2020 @ 10:25am

    In all honesty, no one is forcing you to work for Spectrum; you made that choice all on your own. Also, in all honesty, you can resign, or act in such a way as to get yourself fired. You do indeed have options. After leaving Spectrum, you could go work for Walmart, Amazon, etc.
    Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/industries-hiring-during-coronavirus-outbreak

    Slavestrum,
    Would you rather work in hazardous conditions and get hazard pay (which would be more than your normal pay Agreement)?
    -or-
    Would you rather work in hazardous conditions and get paid a bonus for doing so later?

    You seem to take my questions as a personal attack. They are not. I'm just asking:
    1."should all who work in a time of crisis/hazard get paid more"?
    2."would you rather-->hazard pay now or bonus later"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 12:15pm

    Spectrum

    I chose to work there and like I stated I enjoy my job it's we are not giving the protection that is required from not catching the virus and working in hazardous conditions. Thats what this thread it about. Are you serious about quitting the job? Both companies you mentioned are having the same issue. Did you just get on this thread to argue because I really dont have time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2020 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Spectrum

      Yet here your are, and you still haven't answered the questions.
      You must admit that there is a parallel between

      • getting paid more because you raise the price out of greed in a market where there is temporary (hopefully only temporary) scarcity-->like after a hurricane for example
        and
      • getting paid more because you're currently working in a hazardous situation -->like coronavirus
        In both instances, someone is getting more money in a time where money could be spent on other necessities.
        I understand that you either don't want to answer the questions, or you simply don't understand the questions. I'm not trying to brow beat you, I just wanted insight on whether or not anyone saw the parallel that I mentioned above.
        You Win

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re: Spectrum

        How about raising the price to prevent that scarcity?

        Option 1: keep prices the same and inventory is gone
        Option 2: raise prices so there's a chance more people can get what they need
        Option 3: keep prices the same but restrict customers to one or very few items

        For some reason people seem to want option 1, when it seems clear to me it's the worst of the three.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Essential, 1 Apr 2020 @ 5:26pm

        Re: Re: Spectrum

        You strike me as someone just wanting to virtue signal and impose your moral code on people.Bullet points on a comment thread? Lol... Enjoy your internet connection Mr Moral superiority.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 1 Apr 2020 @ 7:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: Spectrum

          What is your objection to bullet points?

          • they can organize thoughts
          • it's a good way to present a list of items
          • they look better if there are at least three of them

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2020 @ 1:14pm

    I never even considered that, nasch.
    Thanks for enlightening me. This is the kind of discussion we need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 30 Mar 2020 @ 2:48pm

    Parallel

    Yes I understand your point but your looking at as a government not a business. This is about one entity choosing not to take care of its employees. Putting hazard pay aside why is spectrum not providing the protection for its employees. In my eyes all jobs are essential regardless what they are. Because of people dont have income to spend money this country is going to loose a lot of small businesses. I would shut up about hazard pay if they providing hand sanitizer, gloves, and mask but they aren't. If there aren't able to get them its because they never took it seriously. In return we are risking our lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    concernedatspectrum, 31 Mar 2020 @ 12:31am

    Spectrum Employees need Hazard Pay

    I am also an employee and very concerned about us all. We started a petition. Please join, sing the petition and spread the word or nothing will be done. It takes seconds to sign it, but we need people to comment and most of all tell others about it.
    Click on the link:
    https://www.coworker.org/petitions/spectrum-employees-need-hazard-pay-now
    Or go on www.coworker.org and search Spectrum.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 2 Apr 2020 @ 7:49am

    Won

    We got our Hazard pay ! Finally spectrum

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Slavestrum (profile), 2 Apr 2020 @ 8:36am

    Pay increases

    No need the pay increase for us spectrum employees was raised today!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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