FairPoint Workers Picket Portland Headquarters to Protest Company’s Refusal to Compromise on Layoffs

Shelley SperryFairPoint Finances, Layoffs, Mobilization, Press ReleaseLeave a Comment

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2015
Contact: Amy Masciola, 202-285-6955, amy.masciola@gmail.com

Workers Say Drastic Cuts Will Further Erode Service Quality

PORTLAND, ME — Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) who work for FairPoint Communications conducted informational picketing at company headquarters on Davis Farm Road in Portland today to protest the company’s unwillingness to compromise on significant issues during talks about the recently announced layoff of more than 10% of the northern New England workforce.

FairPoint Communications announced on May 15th that it would lay off more than 200 employees across its northern New England operations. Since then, leaders of IBEW and CWA have met with company representatives to discuss the layoff process in an effort to reduce the number of workers who will lose their jobs.

Union leaders said the company has refused to cooperate on several issues of importance, and the unnecessary cuts will further erode already severely compromised service quality for the region’s telecommunications customers. “There is absolutely no shortage of work out there,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Maine. “Right now, the company is forcing hundreds of workers to work overtime and many are on permanent standby at locations where the company is planning to cut positions. It defies common sense.”

Leaders point to widespread rumors of an imminent sale of the beleaguered company, and say that the decision to layoff so many workers is all about increasing share value ahead of a sale. “It’s a damned shame that this company is sacrificing hundreds of good, local jobs and our customers’ trust in order to ensure the Wall Street hedge fund owners make a huge profit in a sale,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “What kind of telecommunications infrastructure will northern New Englanders be left with in the wake of FairPoint’s slash and burn strategy?”

FairPoint says it must cut the workforce in response to a decline in access lines and revenue. However, union leaders argue that layoffs will just lead to further losses because of deteriorating service quality. The company is already under investigation by regulators in Maine and Vermont. In Maine, for example, the company has not met a key benchmark–percentage of network problems resolved within 24 hours–since April 2012.

“FairPoint’s service quality has declined precipitously since it emerged from bankruptcy with Wall Street hedge fund owners back in 2011,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326. “It’s no coincidence that the decline in service quality has corresponded with workforce cuts. You cannot maintain the network and provide good service without qualified workers.”

“Our members made tremendous sacrifices last winter. We walked the picket lines for 131 days to keep good jobs in our region and to improve the quality of service for our customers,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “And we remain committed to that fight. We will not sit by while this company casts aside hard-working employees–many of them with decades of experience–in a shameless effort to feed Wall Street greed.”

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,500 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 250 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.