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CWA SEEKS TO BLOCK TCI PURCHASE OF PENN ACCESS

 CWA SEEKS TO BLOCK TCI PURCHASE OF PENN ACCESS
 PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- "TCI (Tele-Communications


Inc.) has been a poor corporate citizen, with respect to provision of cable television service, and adverse treatment of Pennsylvania workers," charged Communications Workers of America Vice President Vincent Maisano. "Allowing them to provide communications services to Pennsylvania customers would not be in the best interest of consumers, workers and the overall economy of our state."
 CWA is seeking to block the proposed sale of Penn Access telecommunications corporation to Digital Direct of Pittsburgh, Inc. On Jan. 29, 1992, the union filed a petition to intervene in this sale with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Digital Direct of Pittsburgh is a wholly owned subsidiary of TCI.
 "The Public Utility Commission's approval of such a sale is guided by what will serve the public interest," Maisano stated. "We strongly feel that the public interest will not be served by approval of this transaction."
 CWA, which represents TCI cable television employees and telecommunications workers throughout Pennsylvania, outlined the following reasons for opposition to the sale in the petition:
 "TCI PROVIDES POOR SERVICE
 A random sample of cable television providers published in the
 September 1991 issue of Consumer Reports found that service was
 poor and that TCI was the worst of those studied.
 TCI IS LITIGIOUS AND FIGHTS MUNICIPAL EFFORTS TO SECURE ADEQUATE
 SERVICE
 Efforts by municipalities to ensure adequate service have cost
 millions of dollars.
 TCI HAS ABUSED ITS MONOPOLY POWER
 When rate negotiations stalled with local regulators in Vail,
 Colo., the local TCI system shut off all programming for the
 weekend and ran nothing but the names and home phone numbers of
 the mayor and city manager. The local government was coerced
 to accede to the methods of TCI's.
 TCI USES ABUSIVE SALES PRACTICES
 Within the past year TCI attempted a negative subscription scheme
 when consumers had to take action or be charged for a premium
 channel ('Encore') they had not requested."
 The petition goes on to discuss the link between TCI's poor customer service and its adverse treatment of its employees:
 "Many of the complaints of poor service are a result of a TCI
 corporate policy which dictates low wages and the attendant
 worker turnover rates which follow. TCI provides no pension plan
 and forces employees to pay a large share of health insurance.
 These poor labor relations practices cause high turnover rates
 and an environment in which TCI employees have difficulty
 providing proper levels of service. Experienced, qualified
 employees are not valued by the company, but instead leave when
 other opportunities present themselves. The result is lower
 quality service to communities served by TCI."
 CWA's petition also notes that TCI's degradation of wages and working conditions is against the best interest of Pennsylvanians. The union states that those "low-wage TCI policies tend to lower the standard of living of workers in our communities and create more working poor." Further, "the low pay of TCI employees" means that a disproportionate share of money paid by Pennsylvania customers is exported to TCI headquarters in Denver, not invested here.
 CWA charges that TCI's history of worker abuse and poor provision of service makes their bid to provide communications service through Penn Access against the public interest.
 The petition also raises concerns that common ownership of TCI of PA and Digital Direct would have "a negative impact on both companies' services and rates, including the possibility of inter-company subsidization and predatory pricing."
 "Such common ownership and administration of cable operations pose problems for our members working for Bell of Pennsylvania," Maisano explained. "TCI's record of poor service and subsistence wages would undermine the current high quality of service, as well as the favorable wages and working conditions of Pennsylvania's regulated telephone services."
 CWA represents nearly 18,000 Pennsylvania communications workers, including employees of TCI of Pennsylvania, and many telephone companies in the state, including Bell of Pennsylvania.
 CWA represents over 600,000 workers in telecommunications, printing, publishing, media, health care and the public sector in the United States and Canada.
 -0- 2/5/92
 /CONTACT: Jeff Miller or Gaye Williams Mack of the Communications Workers of America, 202-434-1172/ CO: Communications Workers of America; Tele-Communications Inc.;
 Penn Access ST: Pennsylvania IN: TLS SU:


MK -- DC002 -- 7048 02/05/92 09:31 EST
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Date:Feb 5, 1992
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