FairPoint Walks Away From Bargaining Process, Declares Impasse

Unions Accuse Company of Federal Labor Law Violations

Manchester, NH–Unions representing nearly 2,000 employees of FairPoint Communications in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont met with the company on August 27 in Nashua, NH. The unions made a comprehensive proposal despite the company’s rejection of several earlier proposals.

The company then waited several hours before notifying the unions by email that the parties are at impasse and that the company would impose its last contract proposals at 12:01 a.m. on August 28.

“We strongly disagree with the company. We have not reached impasse. The company should stay at the table and continue to work with us to reach an acceptable agreement,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2327 in Augusta and chair of the unions’ bargaining committee.

The unions have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the company of violating federal law by not bargaining in good faith.

“We are deeply disappointed that FairPoint has walked away from the bargaining process,” said Don Trementozzi, President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400. “We have worked tirelessly for months to negotiate an agreement that is fair to our members, our customers, and the company. We believe the company never intended to reach an agreement with us, but has been pushing towards this outcome all along.”

According to union leaders, the company has rejected every significant proposal the union has put forward since bargaining began in April and has refused to offer any counter proposals since before the contract expired on August 2.

“The company has refused to bargain with us, and their negotiators have even attempted to intimidate and bully us throughout the process,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, NH. “But our members will not be intimidated by this company. They are determined to stand up for good jobs and our customers.”

Union leaders say FairPoint management wants to outsource hundreds of good jobs in Northern New England to low wage, out-of-state contractors. The company’s proposals would be devastating for communities that depend on well-trained and experienced workers to build and maintain their landlines, cell towers, DSL, and even 911 systems.

“FairPoint’s employees are some of the best trained, most experienced telecommunications workers in this country,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Burlington, VT. “But FairPoint executives are determined to outsource their work to low road contractors no matter the impact on customers and our communities. We will continue to fight their attempts to outsource our future.”

The union bargaining team will meet with its attorneys and other key advisors on Thursday morning to assess the situation and decide on next steps. In the meantime, the union has notified all members to continue working until further notice.

IBEW System Council T9 represents nearly 1,700 FairPoint employees in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. CWA Local 1400 represents nearly 300 employees in the three states.

CWA-IBEW Fairpoint Workers Are Ready To Strike When The Time Comes

Despite working past contract expiration,
FairPoint employees can still strike at will

Union leaders say company still refusing to compromise on any proposal

On Saturday night, just before the midnight expiration of contracts covering nearly 2,000 FairPoint workers across Northern New England, leaders of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 announced that their members would continue working and not go on strike. According to union leaders, negotiations will continue and employees will be covered by most provisions of the expired contracts. However, the unions can now call a strike or the company could lock workers out at any time without prior notice.

Union leaders and management have been in bargaining over a new contract since April, and negotiations have been tense from the start. In the last two weeks, the company has resorted to increasingly aggressive tactics meant to intimidate workers. Union leaders say this demonstrates management’s lack of commitment to reaching a fair agreement. In addition to posting new “no trespassing” signs and spray-painting strike lines on the pavement at many company locations, management went as far as housing strike-breaking replacement workers at the same hotel where bargaining is taking place—an open and hostile attempt to intimidate union leaders.

“They are trying to bully us into submitting to their demands,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, NH. “But we will not be bullied, and we’ll continue fighting for our families and our communities as long as we have to.”

Union negotiators have put forward several proposals that would save the company over $180 million. The company has rejected these and every other cost-saving proposal that the unions have made.

Union leaders say they are deeply concerned about management’s demand to be able to replace local, well-trained workers with low-wage, out-of-state contractors. “Most of the current employees have been working for the phone company for decades and we know our customers and our systems better than any outside contractor ever will,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Augusta, Maine. “Customers will suffer if the company gets its way. But management cares more about cutting costs and giving that money to their hedge fund owners than in investing in our communities.”

“Our unions have shown a willingness to compromise from the start,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “But it looks to us like the company’s strategy from the beginning has been to lock out workers so they can replace them with out-of-town contractors. It’s a blatant attempt to gut good jobs in this region. Our members are unified and have the support of many allies and community members. We will not stand by and let this corporation and its Wall Street cronies get away with it.”

Maine Labor Advocates To Show Movie SALT OF THE EARTH in Solidarity For IBEW-CWA FairPoint Workers

In an expression of solidarity with the IBEW and CWA workers at FairPoint Communications who are struggling for a fair contract, the Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County has organized a public showing of the movie Salt of the Earth on July 29.

SALT OF THE EARTH
Tuesday July 29th, 7:00pm
Ellsworth Unitarian Universalist Church
121 Bucksport Rd.

Join the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth’s Peace & Social Action Committee, Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County, IBEW Local 2327, CWA Local 1400, Maine State Association of Letter Carriers, Maine AFL-CIO, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, for a free showing of the movie “Salt Of The Earth.”

For more information call 667-4877

Share this flyer with your friends by clicking here for Facebook or here for Twitter.  Also you can download this PDF version of the flyer to post at your worksite or email to your friends.

SALT OF THE EARTH PNH

FairPoint employees attend annual meeting and claim part of company’s contract proposal violates federal law


Fairness at Fairpoint BannerLocal community and union members support Northern New England telecom workers at rally

Charlotte, NC—Employees of Charlotte-based FairPoint Communications traveled from Northern New England to attend the company’s annual shareholders meeting today. The employees—members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA)—came to address top executives and the Board of Directors over concerns they have about the company’s most recent contract proposal. The collective bargaining agreement between FairPoint and 2,000 IBEW and CWA members expires August 2nd.

According to union leaders, the company’s proposed new hire wage rates are, in many cases, below minimum wage levels by as much as 31%. Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW 2327, asked management, “Are you aware that your negotiators are therefore asking the unions to agree to wage levels that violate federal and state laws?”

Union members also expressed concern about rising executive compensation at the same time that management has proposed steep cuts to employee pay and benefits and cut jobs. “Company contract proposals want to enforce poverty wages, cut pensions, and slash health care,” said Serina DeWolfe, a member of CWA Local 1400. “Since 2011 our CEO [Paul Sunu] has seen his compensation increase by more than 37%. We want to know why the Board rewarded Mr. Sunu so handsomely even as management eliminated the jobs of hundreds of our co-workers and now proposes to pay new hires poverty wages,” she said.

After the meeting, the FairPoint employees were joined by dozens of local allies for a rally outside the downtown Charlotte hotel where the meeting was held. “We believe every working person deserves respect and a fair deal. FairPoint, a company based right here in North Carolina but owned largely by Wall Street hedge funds, is attempting to destroy good jobs in Northern New England. We came out today to support our brothers and sisters who traveled more than 1,000 miles to demand justice,” said Ashley Howard, a Trustee of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council.

Charlotte-based FairPoint Communications is the primary landline telephone provider in Northern New England. The IBEW System Council T-9 includes Locals 2320, 2326, and 2327 and represents approximately 1,700 FairPoint employees in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The Communications Workers of America Local 1400 represents approximately 300 FairPoint employees in the three states.

CWA Applauds Government By The People Act

CWA-blue-lineWashington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) applauds the introduction of H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. The legislation was unveiled today by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.). The bill is an important step in reducing the influence of moneyed special interests in politics and would put our elections back into the hands of everyday Americans.

Image from Twitter @OfByUS

Congressman Ellison
Image from Twitter @OfByUS

“We the people want to be heard,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “Corporations, Super PACs and Dark Money give a big voice to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. This uncontrolled spending threatens the democratic voice that is the foundation of our country. Increasingly, ordinary Americans are expressing a growing conviction that their votes don’t count, that our political process is controlled by the biggest bankroll, and that money, not the public interest, sets policies and priorities in government.”

The Government By the People Act would change how we finance our elections by encouraging candidates to rely on a large number of small donations from their constituents back home, as opposed to funds from extremely wealthy donors, special interests, lobbyists, Wall Street and big business. It would empower ordinary voters and hold members of Congress accountable to the people who put them in office, not the biggest bankroll.

Here is how it would work:

• Contributions of $1 to $150 would be matched on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created “Freedom from Influence Fund.” Large contributions would not qualify for any match. The fund would be financed by closing corporate tax loopholes.

• The first $25 contributed by small donors would qualify for a “My Voice” refundable tax credit.

• Every candidate’s contributions from the new fund would be capped, and there would be strict enforcement of campaign finance laws, including disclosure of all donations.

Learn more about the Government By the People Act at www.ofby.us

New Survey Show Voters Don’t Want To Take The ‘Fast Track’ On The TPP

Nationwide, Bipartisan Survey Finds Strong Voter Opposition to Fast Track Authority for Trade Deals Such as the Trans Pacific Partnership

Stop Fast Track

Washington, D.C. — A nationwide, bipartisan survey of voters’ attitudes about “fast track” authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership found strong opposition to Congress’s approving “fast track” authorization, with a strong majority of Americans indicating their belief that trade agreements make the country worse off.

The survey was conducted Jan. 14-18, 2014 by Hart Research Associates, a Democratic pollster, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican polling firm.  It was jointly sponsored by the Sierra Club, the U.S. Business and Industry Council and the Communications Workers of America.

Voter opposition to fast track authorization is broad, with 62 percent saying they oppose fast track authority for the TPP trade deal, versus 28 percent who say they favor it. After hearing an equal number of arguments that have been made by organizations supporting and opposing fast track, voter opposition grew to 65 percent, including 45 percent indicating that they are strongly opposed.

In households where a voter either owns or works for a small business, the verdict is clear: 64 percent say they expect TPP to hurt more than help small business.

On wages and jobs, the environment and food safety, voters clearly believe that TPP will make things worse.  By a 35 point margin, voters believe that TPP would make things worse in terms of American wages (56-21). By a 30 point margin, voters believe that TPP would make things worse environmentally, not better (48-18). Among voters under age 35, 54 percent say that TPP would have an adverse environmental impact.  A full 63 percent believe that TPP would make U.S food safety worse.

“We’re up against big corporations and deep-pocketed polluters, but environmental groups, labor unions, and other allies have the support of American voters. We need to work together to let people know how this behemoth of a trade deal would affect our jobs, our wages, our access to clean water and air, and our safety as consumers. And we need Members of Congress to oppose fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program.

“Republican Members of Congress and their political advisors ignore at their peril the massive opposition of Republican and Independent voters to Congressional passage of fast track trade authority. They are also gravely concerned about the negative impact the proposed TPP will have on jobs in this anemic recovery. These voters know firsthand what the Republican leadership studiously ignores: Since the U.S. runs persistently high trade deficits under current outmoded trade policies – a cumulative deficit of $10 Trillion in goods since NAFTA – trade displaces many more jobs than it creates and small businesses and their employees suffer disproportionately,” said Kevin L. Kearns, president of the U.S. Business and Industry Council.

“Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives. Trade policy, done correctly, is a win for the U.S. economy and U.S. workers. But fast tracking this TPP will reduce the quality of life for Americans,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.

Among other survey findings:

Opposition to fast track authority remains strong across incomes, with 60 percent of voters in households with incomes under $50,000 and 65 percent of those with incomes over $100,000 expressing opposition to fast track authority.

Republicans overwhelmingly oppose giving fast track authority to the president (87 percent oppose), as do Independents (66 percent). Only Democratic voters give a slight edge to favoring fast track, with 52 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.

More than half of non-college white voters, or 53 percent, are less likely to re-elect a Member of Congress who supports fast track.

Full poll results here

We Can’t Abdicate Trade Policy to Secret Negotiations and Non-Elected Officials

Washington, D.C. — In testimony at the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on “Advancing Congress’s Trade Agenda: the Role of Trade Negotiating Authority,” Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America called for a strong and enforceable role for Congress in setting trade policy and priorities.

Last week, legislation calling for “fast track” authorization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements was introduced.

“Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives. We cannot let foreign policy objectives trump domestic concerns and in the process unravel our own democracy instead of strengthening others,” Cohen said.

“Nor should we abdicate the decision to determine with whom the U.S. should negotiate. Vietnam is a 90 million person nation that is a party to the TPP negotiations.  The minimum wage in Vietnam is 28 cents an hour, and the average hourly wage is 75 cents. Vietnam’s is a record of non-existent workers’ rights and an extensive roster of human rights violations, including the documented use of child labor,” he said.

Cohen was the only witness testifying in opposition to “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals. He addressed the issues that a broad coalition of unions, environmental organizations, consumer groups, fair trade advocates and others have joined to work for trade policies that benefit everyone.

“We recognize the reality that we are living in a global economy. Trade policy, done correctly, is a win for the U.S. economy and U.S. workers.

“It is critical that we work to stop the global race to the bottom that has been the result of old-style trade agreements. As a nation, we strive to improve our standard of living and provide a better life for our children and grandchildren. We should not compromise on these values and reduce the quality of life for Americans through our trade policies.” Cohen said.

Congress should establish these priorities for fast track legislation, Cohen said.

1. Document that any new trade deal is not likely to add to the nearly $1 trillion in annual trade deficit in goods. This deficit has increased by five times since we adopted NAFTA.

2. Document the net effect on employment, don’t look only at increases in exports. Each trade deal comes with the promise of job growth, yet the overall impact has been job loss, due to a wave of imports and offshoring.

3. Document the effect on pay and workers’ standard of living. Since NAFTA was negotiated, U.S. wages have stagnated and workers’ weekly take home pay is $100 less than 40 years ago.

4. Ensure that consumer protection regulations by federal, state and local governments are not diminished.

5. Ensure that all trading partners comply with ILO principles and convention. The U.S. has ratified just two of those eight principles that cover workers’ rights, child labor and freedom of association.

6. Ensure that environmental standards are not degraded and are enforceable.

7. Ensure that these social goals are enforceable at least at the same level as all other sections, like patents, investment protection and intellectual property rights.

8. Ensure that Congress plays a meaningful role in setting priorities and limits the authority the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate on basic governance and human rights.

 

Read the full testimony here: http://www.cwa-union.org/fasttrack-cohen-testimony

Read the executive summary here: http://www.cwa-union.org/fasttrack-cohen-summary

Labor Day Message from CWA President Larry Cohen

Washington, D.C. — This Labor Day, we are celebrating some victories and looking ahead to big challenges. We know that times are tough and bargaining can be brutal. But we’re encouraged, because we’re armed with a strategy that enables us to build our power by building a movement of allies – civil rights activists, labor, greens, community organizers, people of faith, immigrant rights groups, the LGBT community and others — who share our vision of social and economic justice.

We know that we can’t reach our goals of secure jobs and bargaining rights on our own. No one group can go it alone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies are too entrenched, too wealthy, too able to exert pressure and control over our democracy. But by working together, like-minded people are bringing about real change.

That’s why National People’s Action’s Sunflower Community partners with our local and T-Mobile activists in Wichita, Kansas, to help win workers’ rights and real immigration reform. That’s why CWA locals in North Carolina are joining the “moral Monday” demonstrations against that state’s assault on voting rights. That’s why CWA members are working with the Sierra Club, Citizens Trade Campaign and Jobs with Justice activists to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership that’s a bad deal for workers, consumers and the environment. That’s why CWA activists have teamed up with faith leaders to support fast-food workers’ strikes for fair wages in St. Louis and other cities. And it’s why 2,000 CWAers joined the crowd at the 50th anniversary March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, to remind our nation that the American dream is not a reality.

CWA Launches New Website to Help T-Mobile US Workers Speak Out

WASHINGTON, DC — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today launched an innovative new website, www.TMobileWorkersUnited.org, run by workers for workers. T-Mobile Workers United, or TU, is an alliance of hundreds of call center representatives, retail associates and technicians who are standing up to discuss the issues and challenges they face at the new T-Mobile US, a merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS.

The website makes it easier for T-Mobile and MetroPCS employees to connect to a network of their colleagues across the country and gives them the social media tools to support and raise awareness about TU.

Here’s what workers are saying online:

·         “With the recent acquisition of Metro PCS (9 million no contract customers and no customer service based in the USA) the winds of change are blowing. T-Mobile USA stopped employees’ raises and stopped the phone incentive for employees. We feel if we don’t unite soon, more call centers may soon be on the chopping blocks for downsizing.” – Roland Ellis (Nashville, TN)

·         “I joined TU because I was tired of the unfair treatment. Sometimes I feel like they think they can do whatever they want and there is nobody governing them or there to tell them they are wrong. And when you try to tell them they are wrong, it gets disrespectful. It becomes the type of environment that shouldn’t be a work environment. This is not the streets. You don’t get in someone’s face and tell them they are wrong. You don’t intimidate someone to not voice their opinion or not stand up for themselves.”– Adrian Dominguez (New York, NY)

·         “I’m organizing because, basically, I feel a calling for it. I do care about what happens to young people, especially young workers. I’m at the end of my working life so I’m not afraid. And I just feel like people need to step up and make the American labor movement understand what’s going on. We’re going downhill fast and it really concerns me.” – Candace Harrison (Albuquerque, NM)

Check out more stories and videos at www.TMobileWorkersUnited.org. If you would like to speak with a worker, please contact Kendra Marr Chaikind at kmarr@cwa-union.org.

In 2011, CWA, ver.di, the German union that represents workers at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom, and a coalition of community and labor groups around the world partnered on an international campaignto win workers a voice and respect at T-Mobile. The company’s anti-union campaign has been brutal: Workers who even express interest in organizing have faced harassment, intimidation and surveillance. The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly sent the telecommunications giant warnings for its behavior.

This May, T-Mobile officially merged with MetroPCS, combining T-Mobile’s 30,000 employees and 33.2 million customers with MetroPCS’s 3,700 workers and 9.3 million customers.

Workers want this new company to succeed, and they believe that justice and respect in the workplace are essential for that success.

Tentative Agreement Reached for 6,500 Agents at US Airways

CWA-blue-line

teamster airline

Washington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached a tentative agreement covering 6,500 passenger service employees at US Airways. The IBT and CWA together represent the reservations and airport agents.

The tentative agreement provides for wage increases at every step for all passenger service employees and includes a ratification bonus. It also provides critical job security protections, an important issue for workers as the US Airways- American Airlines merger goes forward.

Agents from US Airways and American Airlines have launched a joint campaign to make certain they have a strong union voice at the merged airline.

‘“Working together, passenger service employees at US Airways have built a strong, united group that will continue to make advances for all agents as the US Airways-American Airlines merger proceeds,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins.

 

A ratification vote is being scheduled.