Augusta, ME—A little more than one week into a strike by FairPoint’s union workers, the company is struggling to maintain its systems and failing to respond to many customer calls. The company is trying to distract attention from this fact by making bogus insinuations that union members are responsible for acts of vandalism say representatives of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400.
Union workers say that individuals working inside FairPoint have told them that the current replacement workforce is unable to maintain the systems or respond to the troubles reported by customers.
“We’re hearing from managers that customer calls are so backed up that many do not make it through at all,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “This is clearly a desperate attempt by FairPoint to distract the public from its inability to maintain the systems and network without its qualified workforce.”
“We’re fighting to maintain the best possible service for New England,” said Peter McLaughlin, Chair of the IBEW System Council T9. “FairPoint has produced absolutely no evidence that any of our members have committed such acts. And we strongly condemn vandalism or any attempt to damage equipment or the network.”
Members of the IBEW and CWA have been picketing FairPoint work sites for twelve or more hours per day since the strike began on October 17th. In addition, members are “mobile picketing,” meaning that they follow replacement workers to work sites to picket those locations in order to educate the replacement workers and the public about the company’s unfair work practices.
According to Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, NH, “In the course of mobile picketing, our members have witnessed replacement workers engaged in unsafe practices that endanger themselves and the public. We are gathering these reports in order to file complaints with the proper authorities. Far from endangering the network, our members are taking actions to protect the public from replacement workers’ recklessness.”
“The company admits that it cannot meet service needs and safeguard critical networks,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Colchester, VT. “This desperate attempt to shift blame for that from their unskilled replacement workers to the members of our unions whose hard work and commitment brought FairPoint through bankruptcy is truly disgusting.”