New Hampshire Pulls FairPoint State Contract; Unions Comment

Amy MasciolaFairPoint Finances, Press Release, Regulation, StrikeLeave a Comment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 23, 2014
CONTACT: Jim McNeill, 202-213-1614, Jim@FairnessAtFairpoint.com

New Hampshire refused to approve a $13 million contract with FairPoint to provide phone and Internet service to the state

N.H. move comes less than a week after Maine U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree raised questions about FairPoint’s fitness to fulfill government contracts

Widespread service outages have plagued FairPoint customers during strike that’s now in its tenth week

CONCORD — New Hampshire refused Tuesday to approve a $13 million contract with FairPoint Communications to provide phone and Internet service to the state, according to the Associated Press.

The state’s commissioner of administrative services withdrew the five-year contract prior to Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting, when councilors were scheduled to debate it. The five-member council is an elected body that works in conjunction with New Hampshire’s governor.

The two unions representing workers at FairPoint issued statements Tuesday about New Hampshire’s decision to delay action on the FairPoint contract.

STATEMENT BY GLENN BRACKETT
Glenn Brackett, business manager of Local 2320 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents the IBEW members of FairPoint in New Hampshire, issued the following statement:
“New Hampshire just a sent strong signal to the executives back at FairPoint’s North Carolina headquarters. It’s become clear that the company’s attack on its skilled and experienced workforce is an attack on every one of its New Hampshire customers. How can FairPoint executives claim they’re committed to our state when they’ve been putting our economy and our public safety at risk? They need to prove their commitment to New Hampshire by being a responsible partner with their workers and with the customers we serve.”

STATEMENT BY DON TREMENTOZZI
Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1400, which represents the CWA members of FairPoint in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, issued the following statement:
“This is a serious wake-up call to the executives of FairPoint. For years, they’ve been pushing to outsource work to low-wage contractors. But the wave of service outages during this strike shows that you can’t run a high-tech company with cut-rate contractors. Given the terrible service FairPoint has provided the people of New Hampshire over the last two months, why would the state sign a contract with FairPoint to provide phone and Internet service over the next five years?”

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New Hampshire’s move comes less than a week after Maine U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree wrote a letter to FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu raising concerns about the company’s fitness to fulfill government contracts. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and that state’s entire congressional delegation also expressed concerns recently about widespread service outages that have plagued FairPoint customers.

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

In August, FairPoint negotiators abruptly ended negotiations and imposed its package of aggressive cuts. The workers spent nearly two more months trying to find common ground with FairPoint. But with the company refusing to negotiate, union workers launched their strike on October 17.

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.