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After Winning Union Election WMUR Production Assistants Begin To Negotiate Their First Contract

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

Editor’s Note: This is a letter to the editor from Brian Wilson. 

My name is Brian Wilson. I am a full-time “Production Assistant” (studio camera, teleprompter, video server and audio operator) at WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH. The station is owned by multi-national media giant, Hearst Corporation.

I am writing to inform you (and ask for your support of) an organizing effort that has been underway among a group of production employees at the station over the past 12-plus months.

On February 25th of this year, Directors/TDs, Production Assistants, and Graphic Designers at the station petitioned the NLRB seeking an election for union representation. After an attempt by the company to exclude workers it calls “freelancers” from the bargaining unit failed, the company agreed to an election.

About six weeks after the petition was filed, on April 6th, 2015, a group of 20 eligible workers voted 15-4 in an NLRB-conducted election to be represented by Local 1228 of the IBEW (the same union that already represents Videographers/Editors, Master Control Operators, and microwave/satellite truck operators at WMUR.)

On April 17th, 2015 the NLRB certified IBEW Local 1228 as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.

NLRB Case: http://www.nlrb.gov/case/01-RC-147033

The station and union have agreed to an initial bargaining session which has been tentatively set for early June.

Through collective bargaining, workers in this unit at WMUR are fighting to improve wages and working conditions, gain job security, and to stabilize and make uniform the conditions of employment which so often have been set in an arbitrary and unequal way.

These workers have seen the substantial improvements achieved by the other two bargaining units at the station and are striving to win a first contract that brings the same level of results.

These employees have also seen the financial success of the station, but do not feel that they have been given the opportunity to share in that success. They deserve fair compensation for their hard work and effort in helping to make WMUR as successful and profitable as it is.

I hope that you will support and stand with these workers and their families as they fight for fairness and to secure a place in a shrinking middle class.

Sincerely,

–Brian C. Wilson

Union Members Approve Of Agreement With FairPoint And Completely End Strike

Workers to Return to Work on Wednesday, February 25

AUGUSTA, ME—After three days of voting, IBEW and CWA members in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have ratified tentative agreements with FairPoint Communications. The new agreements protect good jobs and ensure quality telecommunications service for New England communities.

“This is great news for our members, their families, and our communities,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the union bargaining committee and Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Maine. “Our members remained united and committed to this fight for more than four months and today we have a fair deal that will bring them back to work and good service back to our communities.”

After initially demanding $700 million in concessions from workers, FairPoint implemented the terms of its proposals on August 28 saying the parties had reached an impasse in bargaining. The implemented terms included a dramatic increase in health care costs, a two-tier wage structure that would have paid new hires as much as 20 percent less to do the same jobs as current workers, and a greatly increased ability to outsource union members’ work to low-wage contractors from outside our region.

Ultimately, FairPoint agreed to a union-administered health insurance plan with better benefits that will cost workers and the company less. FairPoint also agreed to eliminate the two-tier wage structure.

“This agreement is a win for our members and for future FairPoint employees,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “We went on strike last October because we are committed to keeping good, middle-class jobs in New England. Our members walked the lines for more than four months, not just for themselves, but for future generations. Our success will benefit FairPoint workers—and New England’s working families—for years to come.”

The unions also successfully negotiated to protect jobs from outsourcing. During the strike, FairPoint brought in replacement contract workers to do the jobs of experienced, union workers. Complaints skyrocketed in all three states as customers experienced inadequate service, delays for repairs and installations, and increased wait times when calling customer service.

“Our communities have seen the results of outsourcing these last four months, and it has not been pretty,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire.  “There’s no replacement for well-trained, skilled workers. Our members are eager to get back to work and get our network functioning the way it should.

Approximately 1,800 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont launched their strike on October 17. The longest strike in the United States in 2014, workers picketed for 18 weeks.

“Our members are incredible. They walked the picket lines in blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. They stayed strong and they stayed together,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont.

The strikers enjoyed widespread support from their communities and from thousands of allies around the world. Lawmakers in all three states walked the picket lines with members; individuals delivered hot beverages and snacks to picketers; and people and organizations contributed more than $350,000 to the Solidarity Fund to provide financial aid for striking workers to pay for everything from prescription medicine to heating oil.

“The support we’ve received over the past four months has been overwhelming,” said McLaughlin. “Union brothers and sisters from all over the country sent financial help and messages of support. And our friends and neighbors right here in New England showed us their appreciation for our sacrifice every day. They knew that our members were not just striking to protect their own jobs, but that they were fighting for good jobs and quality service for all of New England.”

The new contracts will be in effect until August 4, 2018.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,500 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.

Patrick D. Longley: Standing Strong While We Strike Against FairPoint

By Patrick D. Longley 

Patrick on Day 1 and Day 75

Patrick on Day 1 and Day 75

I wrote this essay after being on strike for just a few weeks. It has now been over three months. At the time this was written, I was experiencing many of the same feelings that are now a part of my daily routine: fear, uncertainty, and disappointment; however, these days there is deeper anger and stronger resolve. The strength and unity of the IBEW and CWA throughout this strike is inspirational and historical. While this essay is very personal, I feel that it is representative of the fight we are all actively participating in – as a union.

November 2014

I was hired for employment as a Splice-Service Technician for Bell Atlantic on August 3, 1998. I was happy to have secured a union job with the potential to provide me with a good life. I started my career in Fitchburg, MA at a garage that was within walking distance of my apartment. I was assigned to the oldest open-back utility truck in the fleet, an early ‘80s three-speed manual GMC with over 200,000 hard miles on it. Seasoned technicians from the monopoly-era New England Telephone Company trained me. The early years were learning years. I accepted that in order to make a life for myself I had to be realistic and settle into a job that perhaps was not aligned with my “dreams,” but would be tolerable if not gratifying.

As it turned out, I found much gratification in this job, most notably through interactions with customers. In 2004, I leaped at an opportunity to transfer job location to Milton, VT. I’ve felt privileged to live within the beauty of Vermont’s landscape. I have become well acquainted with many of the towns in Northern Vermont and have been in many homes throughout Chittenden, Franklin, and Lamoille Counties. I have always tried to be respectful to each customer that I visit. Respect is the foundation of good working relationships.

In 2008, FairPoint Communications took over as my employer. They made many promises but the transition made my job less gratifying. Problems with systems caused service delays and unsatisfied customers. On October 26, 2009, FairPoint Communications filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The company emerged from bankruptcy in January 2011, thanks in large part due to tireless efforts by its union workforce.

Rainy October 18In April 2014, with a contract set to expire in August, the IBEW and CWA (the unions which represent FairPoint’s workforce) formed a bargaining committee with the goal of negotiating a contract that would be fair for both parties. The unions presented comprehensive proposals that would have saved the company $200 million. Throughout the process, FairPoint did not actively participate in meaningful negotiation. The company’s unwillingness to negotiate demonstrated disrespect for its employees. In May, 25 percent of us in the Milton garage were forced to take on a new shift with only 2 weeks notice. This inconvenience to workers and our families seemed born of spite rather than a necessity of the business.

When our contract expired on August 2 of this year, the company and the union agreed to work under the old contract for an undetermined time period. But at the end of the month, the company declared an impasse and imposed an invariable contract devoid of compromise. The union filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The climate at work was in no way gratifying.

As weeks progressed, the unions continued to attempt negotiation. FairPoint’s representatives maintained rigid adherence to their original proposal. The workload was heavy and so was the stress of the whole situation. The company’s demonstrated disrespect for its workforce was taking its toll on those of us who maintain the network.

On October 16, the union and the company met and no compromise was met. The union called a strike and on Friday the 17th I was walking the picket line in Milton. The company claimed that strikers “jammed” call center phone lines and caused service interruptions by vandalizing equipment. No evidence was ever presented. A full-page advertisement was placed in major newspapers stating that the average FairPoint worker is paid $115,000 annually – a blatant embellishment. (Before the strike, I had worked over 400 hours of overtime and, even so, fell far below that salary.)

Since this strike commenced, I’ve heard all the pro-union and anti-union arguments. I’ve read horribly negative remarks by the uninformed. I’ve had middle fingers pointed in my face. I’ve witnessed replacement workers doing my work in an inefficient and unsafe manner. But what sticks with me most is the support I’ve received from my fellow workers and our community. As a union, we are standing strong while facing middle fingers and invective. We are documenting unsafe work practices by replacement workers. We are making our case and receiving positive support from our elected officials. On October 28, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders held a press conference at his office in Burlington urging FairPoint to get back to the bargaining table. Governor Peter Shumlin made an encouraging visit to a picket line in St. Albans and listened to some of my fellow worker’s side of the story. It is time for FairPoint to show some support for its union workforce and focus on real negotiation. Respect is the foundation of good working relationships.

 

Patrick D. Longley

Underhill,VT

 

Union Leaders Respond To NLRB Dismissing Unfair Labor Practice Against FairPoint

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

Reaffirm commitment to fair treatment for workers, good service for customers 

In response to the Region 1 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision to dismiss unfair labor practice charges the unions filed against FairPoint, union leaders issued the following statements:

“While disappointing, the NLRB’s decision is not surprising,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the unions’ bargaining committee and Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327. “Unfortunately, US labor law favors corporations like FairPoint, not working people. The NLRB is one tool in our toolbox—the NLRB does not decide what’s best for our workers and our communities. We remain united and committed in our fight for fairness at FairPoint.”

“Our decision to strike on October 17th was not based on the NLRB and today’s announcement does not change our commitment to our jobs, our communities, and each other,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “The pressure on FairPoint is mounting and their contingency plan is failing. We know it, they know it, their shareholders know it, and our customers know it. We remain committed to our struggle for fair treatment from FairPoint and good service for our communities and our customers in New England.”

Union leaders also announced they will appeal the Regional Director’s decision to the General Counsel of the NLRB in Washington, DC.

Since approximately 1,800 workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont went on strike on October 17th, the three states have seen a “dramatic spike” in the number of complaints against FairPoint.

Last week, New Hampshire officials declined to approve a $13 million contract with FairPoint for phone and internet services, citing concerns with the “poor service levels” customers are currently experiencing.

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 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 the company refused to negotiate and union workers launched their strike on October 17th.

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.

FairPoint Is Failing Our Communities

Fire Alarm (Matthew Ragan CC Flikr)

Fire Alarm (Matthew Ragan CC Flikr)

Since October 17 — more than 60 days ago — workers from FairPoint Communications have been out on strike. Nearly 2,000 workers spread across three states have chosen to stand up to a company that is putting profits before the people of New England.

Rather than come to a fair agreement with their employees, FairPoint executives have continued to insist on $700 million in devastating cuts. The workers have made compromises — offering a health care package that would save the company $7 million a year — but the company keeps insisting on a contract that would turn good middle-class jobs into low-wage jobs with meager benefits.

We all want this strike to end. Many of us have friends who work for FairPoint and have not received a paycheck in two months.  FairPoint has also stripped workers of their healthcare coverage, leaving them completely out in the cold.

Is that really how you treat dedicated workers after years and years of service?

There is another reason that FairPoint should end this strike now: the safety of our communities is at risk.

Since the strike began, FairPoint has been hiring replacement workers to help keep services up.  These replacement workers have been a disaster for FairPoint and the communities they serve.

Customers have gone weeks without phone and Internet access, waiting for FairPoint’s replacement workers to fix their service.  A friend told me two weeks after the strike began that she was switching phone companies because she couldn’t wait any longer for FairPoint to come and fix her phone lines.

These outages are not just affecting people’s homes, they are beginning to affect our schools and emergency services. On Dec 10, the principal of the Cape Elizabeth High School in Maine sent an email to parents warning that “for the past couple of weeks…outside callers to the school experience a never-ending, never-answered ringing sound and then are never put into voice mail.”

Imagine if this was your child’s school.  Imagine if there was an emergency and the school administrators could not call out.  Without phone service, building fire alarms would not alert local firefighters of an emergency. This is a serious problem!

It gets much, much worse.  On November 28, a break in a FairPoint line caused a five hour outage in Vermont’s E-911 system. Due to the outage, over 80 emergency calls were missed.

“We saw our state’s 911 system go down two weeks ago, so we know firsthand how serious this crisis has become,” said Mike Spillane, business manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont.

On December 3, the Portsmouth Police Department was forced to have their calls rerouted through the Concord Police Department dispatch, when Portsmouth’s E-911 system failed due to a FairPoint line outage.  On the same day, problems with FairPoint’s network caused issues for the Exeter Police Department and the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department – for the second time in three months.

We need the skilled, experienced workers from FairPoint back on the job.  We need people with the knowledge and experience to repair these problems before they become worse.

“The executives back in North Carolina don’t have to live with the chaos they’ve caused by attacking their skilled workers here in New England,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “Our 911 systems, our phones and our Internet are failing because their out-of-state contractors can’t do the work.”

For the health and safety of our communities, FairPoint executives need to get back to the bargaining table with the IBEW and CWA and settle this contract dispute now.

Shaheen, Kuster Urge Resolution Of FairPoint Labor Dispute — #FairnessAtFairPoint

In letter to FairPoint Communications, Shaheen and Kuster call on company to return to negotiating table

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) in a letter today called on FairPoint Communications Chief Executive Officer Paul Sunu and the FairPoint Communications management team to return to the bargaining table and resolve the ongoing labor disagreement that has led to 2000 FairPoint employees striking across New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The strike that began October 17 has led to disrupted service for customers throughout the region, including for police departments, fire departments, health care providers and schools, jeopardizing emergency communications and critical public safety services.

“With the onset of winter weather increasing the potential for further damage to FairPoint’s network, we strongly urge you to return to the negotiating table and finalize a new contract,” Shaheen and Kuster wrote. “Reaching a new contract agreement with the striking workers will enable experienced, dedicated FairPoint personnel to return to their jobs and begin the critical task of repairing the telecommunications infrastructure that is vital to public safety in New Hampshire.”

Since the strike started more than two months ago, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission has received nearly 500 complaints from customers in New Hampshire reporting service issues.

The full text of Shaheen and Kuster’s letter is included below:

December 22, 2014

Paul H. Sunu
Chief Executive Officer

FairPoint Communications
521 E Morehead Street, Suite 500
Charlotte, NC 28202

Dear Mr. Sunu:

We write to encourage you and your management team to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a reasonable compromise with FairPoint workers in northern New England that will bring an end to their two-month long strike.

Since FairPoint workers went on strike on October 17, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission has received nearly 500 complaints from FairPoint customers around the state about service outages, lack of information and unduly long waits for repairs.  Clearly, FairPoint’s impasse with its workers is having a negative impact on both the company and its customers.  In fact, problems with FairPoint’s network since the strike began have not only affected residential customers, but have also caused service outages for police departments, fire departments, health care providers and schools throughout the state, jeopardizing emergency communications and critical public safety services.

With the onset of winter weather increasing the potential for further damage to FairPoint’s network, we strongly urge you to return to the negotiating table and finalize a new contract.  Reaching a new contract agreement with the striking workers will enable experienced, dedicated FairPoint personnel to return to their jobs and begin the critical task of repairing the telecommunications infrastructure that is vital to public safety in New Hampshire.

When FairPoint took over Verizon’s New Hampshire network in 2008, the company made repeated, public commitments to work collaboratively with its unionized workforce and to maintain their benefits and compensation.  We urge you to continue to uphold these commitments, to resume contract negotiations, and to reach a fair agreement that ends this strike and enables FairPoint’s employees to resume earning good wages and providing quality service to customers in New Hampshire.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress

Christmas Comes Early for Children of FairPoint Strikers

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

 More than 1,000 toys and gift cards donated to children of FairPoint strikers are being distributed in Portsmouth today

 Public support for strikers is surging; in addition to toy drive, strike relief fund has received nearly $200,000 in donations

 With strike entering its tenth week, FairPoint families say they have the support to go One Day Longer, One Day Stronger

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Santa Claus is coming early for the children of striking workers at FairPoint Communications. More than 1,000 toys and gift cards donated to a union toy drive are being distributed today at the CWA union hall in Portsmouth.

The overwhelming response to the online toy drive marks the latest surge in support for the FairPoint strikers. In addition to the toy drive, the relief fund for the workers — who belong to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — has received nearly $200,000 in donations since the strike began on October 17.

“This incredible outpouring of support is going to make the holidays a whole lot happier for our families,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400, which sponsored the toy drive. “Two months ago, we took a stand against corporate greed. And now, to see so many people standing up for us — and especially our kids — it gives you the strength to go one day longer and one stronger.”

The toys will be distributed to the children of strikers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the three states served by the FairPoint workers.

The workers have been on strike since October 17. They began negotiations for a new contract in April, and from the outset FairPoint executives pressed for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises, but FairPoint has refused to modify its initial demand for cuts.

In August, the company walked away from bargaining and imposed the terms and conditions of its offer. Those terms slash benefits for current workers, impose deep pay cuts on new employees and promote the outsourcing of good jobs to poorly paid and unqualified contractors.

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.

Public Officials Call For Compromise From FairPoint As Workers Rally In Concord

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

Public officials across New England calling for company to compromise; FairPoint hasn’t moved from initial demand for $700 million in severe cuts

Union workers have offered more than $200 million in cost savings; they seek a fair deal that ensures good jobs and quality service for New England

FairPoint Workers Rally -- Image By SEIU1984

FairPoint Workers Rally — Image By SEIU 1984 on Facebook

CONCORD, N.H. — Striking workers and their allies are beginning the tenth week of the strike at FairPoint Communications with a rally on the State House Lawn in Concord. The rally comes as public pressure is growing on FairPoint to settle a fair deal.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, and Senator Bernie Sanders recently issued statements calling on FairPoint, which is headquartered in North Carolina, to settle a fair deal with its New England workers.

The workers — members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America — have offered the company more than $200 million in cost savings during negotiations. But the company has never compromised on its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

FairPoint executives said they had a contingency plan when the strike began October 17, but replacement workers have struggled to maintain the company’s network. On December 3, a failure of the FairPoint network disrupted 911 lines in Portsmouth and several nearby towns. On November 28, a felled FairPoint line crashed Vermont’s entire 911 network. More than 80 calls were missed.

“FairPoint’s executives back in North Carolina don’t have to worry about their 911 calls being dropped, but they’re putting people’s lives here at risk,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “Their refusal to compromise is threatening the economy and the safety of our state.”

In addition to the deep cuts FairPoint is trying to force on the workers, the company has also imposed terms making it easier to outsource work to cut-rate contractors.

“For years, FairPoint has pushed to replace skilled and experienced workers with unqualified and poorly paid contractors,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1400. “This strike is showing what a disaster that is for our customers, and it’s why we’re fighting to make sure there’s a qualified workforce in the future.”

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

The company rejected virtually all of the unions’ proposals during five months of bargaining, then imposed its contract terms at the end of August. In October, after two more months of trying to find common ground with the company, the workers went on strike.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after FairPoint Communications CEO Paul Sunu snubbed a request from the Vermont congressional delegation for the North Carolina company to negotiate an end to a two-month strike by about 1,700 New England workers:

“I am deeply disappointed, but not surprised, with the response from Mr. Sunu. His letter confirms what I have long suspected. FairPoint wants to slash wages and benefits for Vermont workers and it refuses to negotiate in good faith. In essence his letter says FairPoint’s bargaining posture is ‘take it or leave it, we want it our way, and we’re not going to make any compromises.’

“Mr. Sunu fails to mention that the unions already have offered more than $200 million in concessions, nor does he describe just how deep FairPoint’s proposed cuts are. I think most Vermonters would be very surprised to know that FairPoint’s opening positon on new employee wages was below Vermont’s minimum wage.

“Mr. Sunu also does not seem aware just how bad FairPoint service has become. Frankly, the people of Vermont are becoming sick and tired of poor customer service that is getting worse by the day.

“It is time for FairPoint to put its customers’ safety and its workers wellbeing ahead of the interests of the multi-billion dollar Wall Street hedge funds that stand to profit from a sale of the company. It is time for FairPoint to negotiate a contract that respects the contributions of its experienced and dedicated workforce.”

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.

As Storm Approaches New England, FairPoint Struggles with Service Issues

Complaints from FairPoint customers have spiked since telecom company provoked 41-day-old strike

Some FairPoint customers in Maine have been without service since Nor’easter of November 2nd

FairPoint strikers say company’s attack on skilled workers is hurting region; workers calling for Fair Deal for New England

The winter storm approaching New England threatens to make existing service problems for FairPoint customers even worse. Forty-one days into the strike at FairPoint, the company’s replacement workers are struggling to maintain the telecom company’s northern New England network.

“FairPoint started this strike saying they had a contingency plan in place, but they’re failing our customers,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Complaints about FairPoint service have been mounting ever since the strike began on October 17. FairPoint, based in North Carolina, is the largest telecom provider in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

MAINE SERVICE PROBLEMS: In mid-November, Maine Public Advocate Tim Schneider said complaints to his office about FairPoint had spiked since the strike began. Schneider told the Bangor Daily News that his office may have received five calls a month about FairPoint before the strike. He said it was getting three to five calls a day since then.

VERMONT SERVICE PROBLEMS: Early last week, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it had received 271 complaints from FairPoint customers since the strike began. That is a significant increase over the normal number of complaints, an agency official told Vermont Public Radio.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SERVICE PROBLEMS: Granite State media has filed multiple stories about FairPoint’s failing service and even criminal behavior by the company’s replacement workers. Dozens of FairPoint customers in New Hampshire have also reported service problems on a website maintained by the striking workers.

New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission has not yet released figures on the number of FairPoint-related complaints it has received in recent months. But IBEW Local 2320 of New Hampshire will file a formal request today asking that those numbers be made public.

“FairPoint hasn’t even recovered from the last major storm,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400. “We’re hearing daily reports of poles and lines still down all over our region. Their unqualified contractors just aren’t up to the job of maintaining our network during a New England winter.”

The FairPoint workers have been in contentious talks with the company for a new contract since April. In August, FairPoint officials abruptly ended negotiations and imposed proposals that slash all workers’ benefits, cut pay for most new employees by more than 20 percent, and make it easier to outsource good jobs to low-wage contractors. Before going on strike in October, the workers spent nearly two months trying to reopen talks with the company.

The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

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.

In Midst of FairPoint Strike, Unnamed Company Luring Telecom Workers to New England with $300,000 Offer

 In “confidential” job posting on Monster.com, unidentified company offering telecom workers $5,000-$6,000 a week to come to New England

Job ad appears more than a month into strike in which FairPoint has struggled to provide service with unqualified contractors

The ad offers a wage that’s more than three times the average salary of striking FairPoint workers

An unidentified company is advertising for telecom workers and offering to pay them more than $300,000 a year to come work in northern New England. Many wonder if the unnamed company is FairPoint, the telecommunications firm that has struggled to maintain service during a strike now in its 39th day.

“FairPoint has been saying we make too much money, but now it looks like they’re offering people more than three times what we make,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “Instead of settling a fair deal with its skilled workers, FairPoint is squandering tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars on replacement workers who can’t do our jobs.”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.35.41 PM

Screen shot from MONSTER.COM job listing

In a “confidential” posting on Monster.com, the unidentified company lists the job location as “Merrimack, NH.” The striking workers of FairPoint provide service in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The full ad can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/n7v43zg

In statements to the media, FairPoint has complained about the salaries of its skilled union workers. FairPoint claims that those workers make an average salary of $82,000 a year. The $5,000 to 6,000 a week salary being offered in the Monster.com ad would amount to annual pay of up to $312,000 a year.

The ad from the unidentified company calls for workers who “are comfortable working at customer premise locations including large banks, hospitals, cellular towers, etc. ” FairPoint maintains service at all those locations.

“It looks like FairPoint is finally learning the real value of its experienced workforce,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communication Workers of America Local 1400. “Now that they know what we’re worth, it’s time for them to stop wasting money on unqualified workers from out of state and reach a fair deal for New England.”

IN OTHER FAIRPOINT STRIKE NEWS: FairPoint workers will continue their wave of actions for a fair deal today in Washington, D.C. Dozens of demonstrators will hold another protest against the company’s biggest shareholder, Angelo, Gordon & Co.

An official from the Wall Street hedge fund, which owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint stock, will be making a presentation at the National Multifamily Conference and Expo at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washingon. FairPoint workers and their allies will be on the street outside ensuring that the public is fully aware of Angelo, Gordon’s role in the attack on northern New England workers.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in assets for public pension funds, but it has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pensions and benefits of its employees.

WASHINGTON ACTION DETAILS

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 25, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

WHERE: JW Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

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.

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