FairPoint executives placed a misleading ad in newspapers across New England on Sunday morning. By Sunday night, our unions sent a letter to the editors of those papers setting the record straight.
Please spread the word as widely as possible about this letter—which is immediately below. Post it on Facebook, forward it to your friends, and talk it up on the picket line.[LETTER TO THE EDITOR] FairPoint and the Future of New England
We were disappointed to see FairPoint executives spend the company’s money on pricey full-page ads in newspapers all across New England on Sunday (“The Future for FairPoint,” Nov. 2).
In the company’s contract talks with us — the union workers of FairPoint — executives have said they don’t have the money to maintain good, middle-class jobs. They claim that they must pay some new workers a wage that’s below the poverty level for a family of four. And yet the company seems to have plenty of money for misleading ads.
In those ads, the company suggests that their fight with us is all about “The Future for FairPoint.” But what’s really at stake here is the future for workers and families all across northern New England.
The draconian contract FairPoint is trying to force on us would undermine job standards for every worker in the region. If FairPoint can turn good telecom jobs into poverty-wage jobs, then all workers are in serious trouble.
We understand that this is a challenging time for both companies and employees. That’s why since April we worked hard in bargaining to help the company be “more nimble and efficient.” In fact, we offered more than $200 million in cost savings to the company in our contract proposals. But instead of working with us to find common ground, the company walked away from the table in August without making a single substantive compromise and keeps insisting on its original proposal of more than $700 million in savage cuts.
FairPoint, a North Carolina-based company largely owned by Wall Street hedge funds, has tried to demonize its New England workers by pointing out the good wages that many of us make. But those good wages have been earned after years of service.
The starting salary for a typical telephone technician in northern New England is roughly $560 a week. As our workers gain experience and become even more skilled, they’re rewarded for those skills with better pay. We think that’s a good thing. After all, FairPoint’s network cannot be maintained by low-paid and poorly skilled employees, as we’ve seen with all the service disruptions that have occurred during our brief strike.
It is deeply painful for us to see customers struggling with the poor service provided by FairPoint’s replacement workers. And these problems are just a preview of what customers will face if FairPoint succeeds in its plans to outsource work to cut-rate contractors.
We may not have the deep pockets of the Wall Street hedge fund managers that own FairPoint, but we have a deep commitment to the people of northern New England. And that’s why we’ll continue fighting until we win a contract that ensures good jobs and quality service for all our customers.
Business Manager, IBEW Local 2327 (Maine)
Chair, IBEW System Council T-9
Business Manager, IBEW Local 2320 (N.H.)
Business Manager, IBEW Local 2326 (Vermont)
President of CWA Local 1400 (Maine, N.H., Vermont)