FairPoint Freezes Pensions of Nearly 2,000 Northern New England Employees

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Amy Masciola, 202-285-6955, amy.masciola@gmail.com

Union Members Call on Major Shareholder Angelo, Gordon to Intervene

Boston, MA—Today, FairPoint Communications froze the pensions of nearly 2,000 employees who build, maintain, and service vital telecommunications infrastructure throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The company has already stopped providing retiree health care and support for child and elder care. Workers say that this is all part of FairPoint’s plan to turn their good middle-class jobs into low-wage temporary jobs.

Unions representing the employees had been negotiating with the company since April to reach new collective bargaining agreements. Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) say that FairPoint management abandoned the bargaining process on August 27th after refusing to compromise on any substantive issue since negotiations began.

Almost 50 percent of FairPoint’s stock is owned by just five hedge funds, including Angelo, Gordon & Co., FairPoint’s single largest shareholder with almost 20 percent of outstanding stock. FairPoint workers have called on Angelo, Gordon to urge company executives to resume bargaining with their unions and reach a fair agreement.

This morning, several FairPoint employees traveled to Boston to educate attendees of the 60th Annual Employee Benefits Conference about Angelo, Gordon’s role in freezing their pensions and ending retiree health care. Many conference attendees, including administrators of public pension funds and union Taft-Hartley plans, are potential clients of Angelo, Gordon because the firm manages billions of dollars in retirement investments of public sector workers and union members across the country.

FairPoint workers point out that Angelo, Gordon makes tens of millions in fees from public pension and union retirement plans, but has so far failed to stop FairPoint from freezing the retirement plans of its own employees.

According to Jenn Nappi, Assistant Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Augusta, Maine, “Angelo, Gordon wants to have it both ways. It wants to continue to profit from managing the retirement investments of working people from all across the country, while it allows FairPoint, a company in which it controls one-fifth of all shares and has a designee on the board of directors, to freeze the pensions of 2,000 workers in northern New England.”

FairPoint workers and their allies say they refuse to remain silent while Angelo, Gordon games the system. “Today’s action will be one of many in the coming weeks to expose Angelo, Gordon and the other major owners of FairPoint. The firm can play a positive role and engage with FairPoint management in support of a fair agreement with their employees,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “We hope they will reconsider their current position and make a difference for working families in northern New England.”

IBEW System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. CWA Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states.