FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 24, 2014
Amy Masciola, 202-285-6955, email@example.com
Company Attempts to Distract Public From Service Quality Issues
On Day 8 of the strike against FairPoint Communications, workers on picket lines across northern New England expressed their disgust and disappointment at the company’s accusations of sabotage. They suggested FairPoint is trying to distract the media and the public from its inability to respond to service troubles in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
“It’s outrageous that management is lobbing these accusations at the very workers who’ve poured our blood, sweat, and tears into making this a viable company in our region,” said Chris Whidden, a Service Splice Technician and a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2327 in Maine. “I’ve worked for the telephone company for 19 years, and I’ve lived around here even longer. I want to get back to work helping my customers. Why would I want to inconvenience my friends and neighbors, or put them in danger as the company suggests?”
Striking workers have spent hours each day picketing worksites all over northern New England, and they say only a skeleton workforce is going in and out of those worksites. “The company is accusing our unions of jamming their phone lines, but not providing any evidence. It’s not as if they don’t have the technology to trace something like that,” said Todd Bedard, a Central Office Equipment Installer and member of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “Is it that someone is jamming those lines, or is it that the company just simply cannot answer all the customer calls coming in? The parking lots at call centers are nearly empty, so unless they’re outsourcing the calls to other states or the Philippines, then there’s no way they can answer all the calls. That’s not jamming. That’s math.”
Representatives of the IBEW and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) warn that in the coming days FairPoint, a North Carolina-based company largely owned by Wall Street hedge funds, will try to smear the reputations of hard-working New Englanders who simply want to work. “This company has turned its back on our communities,” said Lisa Heisler, a member of CWA Local 1400 and a Customer Service Representative who has worked for the telephone company for 17 years in Vermont. “We are out here every day fighting to preserve good jobs and quality service while the company is accusing us of attacking our own communities. It’s disgusting.”
The IBEW System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The CWA Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.fairnessatfairpoint.com.