FairPoint Strikers Rally in Concord as Public Pressure on Company Grows

Amy MasciolaMobilization, Press Release, StrikeLeave a Comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 19, Noon–1:00 p.m.
CONTACT: Jim McNeill, 202-213-1614, Jim@FairnessAtFairpoint.com

Workers and allies are gathering on the State House Lawn in Concord at noon as FairPoint strike enters its tenth week

Public officials across New England calling for company to compromise; FairPoint hasn’t moved from initial demand for $700 million in severe cuts

Union workers have offered more than $200 million in cost savings; they seek a fair deal that ensures good jobs and quality service for New England

WHEN: Friday, December 19, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: State House Lawn, Main Street, Concord

CONCORD, NH — Striking workers and their allies are beginning the tenth week of the strike at FairPoint Communications with a rally on the State House Lawn in Concord. The rally comes as public pressure is growing on FairPoint to settle a fair deal.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin have both issued recent statements calling on FairPoint, which is headquartered in North Carolina, to settle a fair deal with its New England workers.

The workers — members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America — have offered the company more than $200 million in cost savings during negotiations. But the company has never compromised on its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

FairPoint executives said they had a contingency plan when the strike began October 17, but replacement workers have struggled to maintain the company’s network. On December 3, a failure of the FairPoint network disrupted 911 lines in Portsmouth and several nearby towns. On November 28, a felled FairPoint line crashed Vermont’s entire 911 network. More than 80 calls were missed.

“FairPoint’s executives back in North Carolina don’t have to worry about their 911 calls being dropped, but they’re putting people’s lives here at risk,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “Their refusal to compromise is threatening the economy and the safety of our state.”

In addition to the deep cuts FairPoint is trying to force on the workers, the company has also imposed terms making it easier to outsource work to cut-rate contractors.

“For years, FairPoint has pushed to replace skilled and experienced workers with unqualified and poorly paid contractors,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1400. “This strike is showing what a disaster that is for our customers, and it’s why we’re fighting to make sure there’s a qualified workforce in the future.”

The negotiations for a new contract at FairPoint began in April, and from the outset company officials pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers and slash benefits for all employees.

The company rejected virtually all of the unions’ proposals during five months of bargaining, then imposed its contract terms at the end of August. In October, after two more months of trying to find common ground with the company, the workers went on strike.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.