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N.Y. Mayor’s Meeting Over Cablevision Dispute Should Not Have Been Closed, Says Report

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s meeting with union members involved in a dispute with Cablevision should have been open to the press, a city investigator said on Tuesday.

The city’s Department of Investigation said de Blasio’s meeting in July with a local of the Communications Workers of America should have been open because it was held in a public school building. A New York Post reporter and photographer were among those who tried to get access.

“Public access to events on public property is the foundation of a democratic society,” Mark Peters, commissioner of the Department of Investigation, said in a statement. “City officials and agencies must educate themselves on the rules and be careful to follow them.” He also said there may have been violations of the conflict-of-interest provision of the New York City charter. Nevertheless, he wrote in the report that it appeared that the violations were “inadvertent.”

Cablevision called the meeting a “secret political meeting,” and claim that it was the union’s attempt “to manipulate government in order to further the interests of the CWA union and prevent Cablevision employees from having a voice.”

The CWA has been engaged in a protracted dispute with Cablevision over the unionization of employees in its Brooklyn locations. The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing complaints from the sides in the dispute.

Bob Master of CWA District 1 said in a statement, “We apologize for anything that we did that was in violation of the DoE’s rules on open meetings, and we will be sure to comply with such rules in the future. We hope that likewise, Cablevision will move expeditiously to comply with federal labor law, which it has repeatedly and flagrantly violated for the last three years.”

De Blasio told reporters on Tuesday that closing the meeting was “a mistake. I think, by definition, we were in a public building. The media should have been allowed. I don’t think that – for that kind of public event, there were lots of people there, absolutely, and I think that a mistake by my team, and a mistake we won’t make again.”