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Wave of Actions by FairPoint Strikers Continues Friday in Manchester

FairPoint Communications

FairPoint strikers converge on company’s Elm Street offices calling for good jobs, quality service, and a Fair Deal for New England

Workers escalating their campaign after negotiators from North Carolina-based FairPoint made no movement at meeting earlier this week

Manchester protest marks the third major action by FairPoint strikers in two days, following events Thursday in Montpelier and Boston

WHEN: Friday, November 21, Noon – 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: 770 Elm Street, Manchester, N.H.

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerMANCHESTER — A wave of actions by striking FairPoint workers continues Friday in Manchester. Strikers and supporters from across New England are rallying on the picket line outside FairPoint’s Elm Street offices.

The striking workers are calling on the company, which is headquartered in North Carolina, to reach a Fair Deal for New England. They say that deep and damaging cuts the company is seeking in negotiations would make it impossible to deliver quality service to customers.

“The executives back in North Carolina don’t get it, but they’ve created a crisis here in New England,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320, which represents FairPoint workers in New Hampshire. “By attacking their skilled workers, FairPoint has left our customers relying on unqualified contractors who can’t do the work.”

The Manchester protest will mark the strikers’ third major action against FairPoint in two days. On Thursday morning, a delegation of strikers and supporters protested against FairPoint’s biggest shareholder — Wall Street hedge fund Angelo, Gordon & Co. — at an investor conference in Boston. At noon, the strikers held a major rally at the Vermont state capitol in Montpelier.

Earlier this week, union representatives participated in an effort to jump-start the deadlocked talks. They attended a meeting Tuesday with the company arranged by a federal mediator. But the meeting broke up quickly after FairPoint officials refused to modify demands for severe cuts that they’ve been seeking since bargaining began this spring.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan issued a statement after Tuesday’s meeting, saying, “I know that FairPoint workers, who stood by the company throughout its bankruptcy proceedings, have brought a constructive approach to the table and offered real concessions, and I encourage FairPoint’s leadership in North Carolina to do the same.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke at Thursday’s rally in Montpelier, and said he had talked to the CEO of FairPoint two days earlier. Shumlin said he had urged the CEO to return to the table with the FairPoint strikers so they could “get service back to a level that is acceptable.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint has been struggling to maintain its northern New England systems with replacement workers hired from out of state. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from Fairpoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

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 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.

FairPoint Strikers Hold Two Thursday Actions: Montpelier Rally, Boston Protest

fairness at Fairpoint strikers

IBEW President Edwin D. Hill headlines major rally in Montpelier; strikers and allies target FairPoint’s biggest shareholder in Boston

Strike by 1,700 FairPoint workers for good jobs and quality service becoming national story as walkout enters its second month

Officials in Vermont and elsewhere report that customer complaints against FairPoint have spiked since strike began

FairPoint strikers are mounting two actions on Thursday. IBEW President Edwin D. Hill is headlining a major rally in Montpelier, and a delegation of workers and allies are in Boston protesting against the telecom company’s biggest shareholder.

The 1,700 FairPoint workers of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have been on strike for more than a month. Strikers say that damaging cuts the company is seeking would make it impossible for them to provide quality service to their New England customers.

“FairPoint is tearing up the foundations of the American middle class – all just to line the pockets of hedge fund managers and Wall Street raiders,” said IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “FairPoint workers have made many sacrifices to help save this company through tough times in the past. It’s time for FairPoint to end this strike by returning to the negotiating table and giving its employees a fair deal.”

Hill is leading the rally on the State House Lawn, and is being joined by supporters from across the Northeast. The presence of Hill and other high-profile leaders and allies marks a major escalation in the fight to win a fair deal for New England.

“These hard-working men and women are fighting for good middle-class jobs across our region,” said Frank J. Carroll, Vice President of IBEW’s Second District, which includes New England. “This struggle isn’t just about FairPoint. It’s about the entire telecommunications industry. Whether it’s FairPoint or Verizon, we will not let these companies hurt the customers we serve by driving down standards and outsourcing jobs to low-wage temp workers.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., has been struggling to maintain its system with replacement workers hired from outside northern New England. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from FairPoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

In Boston, a delegation of strikers is gathering outside an investors’ conference attended by officials of Angelo, Gordon & Co., the Wall Street hedge fund that owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint’s stock. The strikers are being joined by dozens of Boston-area union members and activists, all of whom are calling on Angelo, Gordon to intervene in the FairPoint strike.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in public pension funds, yet has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pension and benefits of its workers.

“Wherever we’ve taken this fight, from Charlotte to New York to Boston, we’ve received tremendous support from fellow union members and the public,” said Diane Winton, President of IBEW Local 2327 in Maine. “They understand that we’re not just fighting for ourselves, we’re standing up for the good pay and benefits that every worker deserves.”

The strikers and their allies are protesting outside the Taj Hotel, where Angelo, Gordon officials are briefing attendees at the North American Family Office Conference. The conference is billed as “the leading, private meeting for ultra-affluent families in North America.” The Boston protest follows a similar rally last week in Manhattan, where Angelo, Gordon executives attended a conference for investment managers. Nearly 60 activists greeted attendees at that November 12 meeting.

“No matter how far FairPoint executives and shareholders travel, we’re going to be there,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers Local 1400. “We will not let this North Carolina company and its Wall Street investors evade their responsibilities to the people of New England.”

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

FairPoint officials did attend talks Tuesday in Boston arranged by a federal mediator. But once again the company refused to modify its demands.

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.

Striking New England Workers, and the American Economy

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

 

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

Image from Fairness at Fairpoint

By Carol Driscoll

As a person who grew up in New England in a union household, I was very stirred to learn that on October 17 nearly 2,000 New England telecommunication workers—members of the IBEW and CWA—walked off their jobs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, in a protest against unfair labor practices. They struck against FairPoint Communications, based in North Carolina and owned by five Wall Street hedge funds. At the expiration of their union contracts this past August, the company adamantly refused to sit down and negotiate, despite the unions’ willingness to do so. According to the Kennebec Journal, FairPoint “…asked the unions for $700 million in concessions, mostly by freezing pensions, eliminating health coverage for retirees and asking employees to contribute…20 percent to their health care costs.”

 Why They Went on Strike

The company’s demands are patently ridiculous. The persons in this unionized workforce are skilled, productive men and women who perform some of the most grueling and dangerous work—telephone line repairs and installations—including in all kinds of weather. They have a sense of their value, and refused to accept the company’s offensive “offers.” The fact that FairPoint did not want to continue negotiations is telling. In recent years slashing labor costs by eliminating union workers is a prime function of hedge funds, and to achieve this they must kill the unions’ collective bargaining agreements. Peter Keefe, the unions’ bargaining chair, explained: “The money they’re trying to cut out of our contracts will go right back to the hedge funds. This is a Main Street versus Wall Street fight. It’s not just telecommunications and FairPoint. This is what’s going on in America today.”

Another big issue in the negotiations is job security. The company wants to outsource the jobs of these workers to out-of-state and foreign contractors. “The main reason we are standing out here,” said Randall Curtis on a picket line, “is because we are trying to keep good jobs in Maine. The company wants the ability to outsource all of our work…and we’re fighting to keep those jobs here, to keep them local.”

What’s Going On in America Today?

It’s heartening to me that union officials are aligning their struggles with those of Main Street Americans. However, what the fight is really about needs to be seen more clearly. I say this as a person who worked nearly 25 years for unions on the international and local levels. I love what they represent: their large meaning for the life of every American. I’m deeply grateful for what I’ve been learning these years about unions and the American economy from my study of Aesthetic Realism, the comprehensive education founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel. I learned, for example, that profit economics is based on contempt: on using the labor of working men and women to enrich owners and shareholders—who do not do the work—at the expense of these workers. In the instance of FairPoint, the majority of profits from the labor of nearly 2,000 individuals goes to five Wall Street investors, and when profits go down, the people who do the work are asked to give concessions. To hell with this! Why should these workers have to forfeit their hard-won benefits that they earned day in and day out, year after year?

I’ve learned that unions, from their very beginning, have been a force for ethics and against this contempt. Union workers fought for—and sometimes died for–an honest seeing of what people deserve, and their struggles courageously go on. As a union member in Waterville put it, “You have to fight for what’s right, and it isn’t always easy…but it’s absolutely worth it.”

One of my most ardent wishes is that every union official study what Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, has explained about our economy, the role of unions, and the fierce efforts to destroy them. For instance, in her commentary to The Battle of Insistences she writes:

Beginning in 1970, Mr. Siegel explained that an economy based on the profit motive—on seeing people in terms of how much financial gain one can extract from them—was no longer able to carry on successfully. The profit system would never recover, though it might be made to limp along at the cost of enormous pain to people. Profit economics is a form of contempt. It arises from this assumption, which is also an insistence: certain people should own much more of the world than others, and can use those others to aggrandize themselves.

However, by the 1970s, another insistence had, as Mr. Siegel said come to a tangibility. He called it the force of ethics. And this ethical insistence, working through history, had made it so that by the end of the 20th century private profits were much more difficult to obtain….In the last years, I have been describing the following fact: those who insist that the profit way must be the basis of our economy have been trying to do the one thing that can now keep it going. That one thing is: make Americans work for less and less pay, so more and more of the money they earn with their labor can go into the pockets of the owners, who don’t do the work. Only by increasingly impoverishing the American people can the profit system now go on. Of course, to pay people less and less, to impoverish them successfully, one must try to annihilate unions. Unions—which have fought for and won better economic lives for people over the decades, are one of the biggest embodiments of ethics as a force.

A personal note: It very much affects me that some of the strong actions on behalf of ethics are taking place in Maine. My husband, photographer Harvey Spears and I spend time there every year.  I love its vastness, its beautiful landscapes, and its rocky coastlines. But I’ve also seen firsthand the hurtful effects of profit economics, showing in low wages, which make food pantries shamefully necessary in places both urban and rural.

Eli Siegel asked this kind, crucial question about economics: What does a person deserve by being a person? When this is answered honestly, the folks in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and everywhere else in the U.S. will have a new economy, one that is based on ethics—and one they rightly deserve.

TV Ads Tell FairPoint: Respect New England Workers

Fairpoint Ad Healthcare 2

Striking Employees Say They Want To Get Back to Work

Augusta, Maine — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers released four new television ads featuring FairPoint Communications employees and retirees calling on the company to return to the bargaining table and give workers a “fair deal.”

The spots will run in the Boston, Manchester, N.H., and Portland, Maine, media markets.

In one ad, 15-year employee Marc Jutras describes the struggles his family has faced since the strike began last month.

“My wife passed away in 2013,” says the father of three in the spot. “It was devastating to all of us. It’s daunting to not know where that next paycheck is coming from.”

Jutras says FairPoint’s refusal to bargain fairly constitutes an attack on the middle class. “We’ve made concessions,” he says. “We’ve brought them back from bankruptcy. All we’re looking to do is to get back to work.”

Another ad features Kristen Wescott, whose 11-year-old daughter suffers from a congenital heart defect. But Wescott has no idea how her family will pay for life-saving surgery because FairPoint canceled health benefits for striking workers Oct. 31.

“I’m upset and angry. This isn’t something the company needed to do,” she says in the ad. “The company wouldn’t be in the position it is today if it wasn’t for the union members.”

Nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees in Northern New England went on strike Oct. 17, citing management’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith after company representatives walked away from contract negotiations. Bargaining, which began last April, were stonewalled by FairPoint management, who rejected every compromise offered by union negotiators.

FairPoint wants to outsource skilled New England jobs to low-paid, out-of-state-contractors.

“Our representatives offered numerous concessions which would have saved the company millions of dollars,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. “But FairPoint refused to budge from its outrageous demands which would destroy middle-class jobs in communities throughout New England. All our members want is a fair deal so they can get back to doing what they do best: servicing their communities. “

Watch the new ads here.

###

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents approximately 750,000 active members and retirees who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. The IBEW has members in both the United States and Canada and stands out among the American unions in the AFL-CIO because it is among the largest and has members in so many skilled occupations.

FairPoint Refuses to Compromise at Meeting Today in Boston

FairPoint Communications

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

 Telecom company officials refuse to modify demands at Tuesday meeting arranged by a federal mediator.

In more than six months of talks, FairPoint officials have never moved from their initial demand for $700 million in crippling cuts.

FairPoint workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises since negotiations began.

BOSTON — FairPoint officials refused to modify their demand for $700 million in cuts at a meeting Tuesday in Boston. A federal mediator arranged the meeting, which was an attempt to jump-start contract talks that FairPoint abruptly ended this summer.

FairPoint’s nearly 2,000 union workers have been on strike since October 17 because of the company’s unfair practices. The workers are calling on FairPoint to return to the table and negotiate an agreement that maintains good jobs and quality service for New England.

“The company began these talks demanding $700 million in crippling cuts, and today they’re still making the same demand,” said Peter McLaughlin, Chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “They’re not trying to find common ground with us, they’re trying to turn good middle-class jobs into low-wage jobs with bare-bones benefits.”

The company walked away from negotiations with its union workers in August and imposed proposals that slash all workers’ benefits and cut pay for most new employees by more than 20 percent. Before going on strike, the workers spent nearly two months trying to reopen talks with the company.

“This North Carolina company can keep dragging its heels, but we will win a fair deal for New England,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont. “We will not allow them to outsource the good jobs of New England and turn them into temp jobs filled by out-of-state contractors.”

“FairPoint’s attack on its skilled workers is an attack on the customers we serve,” said Don Trementozzi, President of Communications Workers of America Local 1400. “FairPoint’s executives need to understand northern New England’s telecom network isn’t their own personal profit center. It’s the lifeline of the people we serve.”

FairPoint, a North Carolina-based company largely owned by Wall Street hedge funds, has hired replacement workers during the strike, but they are struggling to maintain the company’s network. There have been reports of widespread service interruptions and long lag times fixing storm-related outages.

“You can’t run a high-tech company with low-wage workers,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “Every day they prolong this strike is one more day they’re forcing substandard service on our customers in northern New England.”

Throughout the contract talks, which began in April, FairPoint has insisted on $700 million in deep and damaging cuts. The union has offered $200 million in cost savings, but the company has refused to make a single substantive compromise in bargaining.

In the wake of Tuesday’s meeting, FairPoint workers and their supporters from across the Northeast are moving forward with a major rally in Montpelier this Thursday, November 20.

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.

Workers Rally To Ask Congress To Stop Delaying America’s Mail

Janice

A boisterous crowd gathered in downtown Manchester on a blustery Friday evening to urge lawmakers not to decimate the U.S. Postal Service. This rally was part of a National Day of Action to stop the closing of 82 mail processing plants starting in January. The deconstructing of the Postal Service network continues despite the fact that on this same day the U.S. Postal Service reported a $1.4 Billion operational profit for the year.

The incredible list of Speakers included NH AFL CIO President Mark McKenzie, SEA/SEIU #1984 President Rich Gulla, IBEW #2320 Business Manager Glen Brackett, AFT NH President Laura Hainey, Gene Porter – husband of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, Norm Welsh Manchester Newspaper Guild President, Liz Skidmore , Carpenters #118 Business Manager and NALC State President Wayne Alterisio. NPMU Rep Ed Barnes was the informative MC and this amazing event was made possible by the incredible work of APWU leaders Janice Kelble and Kim Hayes. (I apologize for those I failed to mention)

The lawmakers that are endorsing these plant closures and eliminating Saturday mail delivery are not trying to save or reform the postal service they want to destroy it. A highly efficient and popular government agency does not fit their mindless anti government ideology that they sell to the American Public to get elected.

Add to the fact that the postal service is highly unionized and the anti worker politicians come out in mass. The battles to shrink worker pay and take back benefits are all around us. Friday’s speakers detailed those battles locally with the bitter strike at Fairpoint being the most ominous. The newspaper guild is still searching for fairness for its employees. The continuous war on reducing public employees is what Teachers and State Employees fight everyday. The workers at the U.S. Postal Service are the next target in our nations ongoing war on workers.

The war against postal workers not only affects the hundreds of thousands of postal workers but the millions of people in our country who rely on timely mail delivery. The elderly waiting for their medicine or child waiting for delivery of their birthday present or a small business waiting for essential documents should not be considered insignificant collateral damage in the attack on postal workers.

Congress should focus on eliminating the onerous $5.4 billion annual retirement healthcare prefunding requirement that has caused financial hardship for the USPS. That unprecedented requirement has to be modified and instead of shrinking the network it should be looking to expand it.

Good USPS financial news abounds with the strong $1.4 billion operational profit just reported.  Add to that Sunday parcel delivery for Amazon Packages is becoming a reality for many parts of the country next month. Letter revenue is up as our economy grows. The USPS can further enhance its skyrocketing 9.1% package revenue growth in the past year. It’s time to build on these success moving forward. Killing the Postal Service for ideological reasons seems more absurd now than ever before

Saving the Postal Service is what united this impressive crowd today. As I listened to the speakers and crowd response another theme became clear to us all. This spirited event highlighted a unified work force in NH that will be a formidable obstacle to those politicians and businessmen who want to erode workers pay and benefits. Our solidarity is a force that must be reckoned with.

Below is a short video of Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH Postal Workers Union talking about the rally and the issues facing the USPS.

You can view all of the videos from the rally in this playlist. 

 

UPDATE:
Other local coverage from WBIN NH1 :http://www.nh1.com/news/postal-service-workers-protest-in-manchester-over-pending-cuts/

New England Cable News (NECN) http://www.necn.com/news/business/Postal-Workers-Say-Cuts-Will-Kill-Service-282766071.html
National USPS Rally Coverage:
Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/11/12/postal-workers-to-protest-plant-closings-and-service-reductions/

Union Picket Lines Stay Strong as FairPoint Stock Price Tumbles

IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)

 

IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)

IBEW Strikers from Brunswick Maine. (Image Fairness at Fairpoint Facebook)

FairPoint stock plunged more than 10% at the end of last week after the company acknowledged strike’s adverse effect in its latest earnings report 

 One day before drop, key financial analyst cited strikers’ continuing strength, warning of “significant negative impact” from “unsettled labor conditions”

FairPoint strikers maintained momentum Saturday with major rally that highlighted N.C.-based company’s attack on good New England jobs

The ongoing strike at FairPoint Communications appears to be spooking investors and taking a toll on the company’s share price. FairPoint’s stock dropped more than 10 percent on Thursday and Friday. (It had dropped another 1.46 percent as of 11:15 a.m. Monday.)

The company’s stock tumbled after FairPoint acknowledged the strike’s adverse impact in its weaker than expected third quarter earnings report last Wednesday. That same day a key financial analyst reported that even after three weeks strikers were not crossing the picket line.

“Our members are not backing down from this fight,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “People are not crossing the line because we know the future of good jobs for every worker in New England is at stake.”

The proposals FairPoint has imposed would slash the pay of most new employees by more than 20 percent, undermine the benefits of current workers and eliminate health benefits for retirees who have given the company decades of service.

FairPoint cut off health care coverage for striking workers on Oct. 31. Some analysts predicted that the health care cut-off might cause workers to waver and end the strike.

But on Wednesday, Nov. 5, the same day FairPoint released its earnings report, financial analyst Barry Sine from Drexel Hamilton reported that “only a handful” of workers had crossed the line, and that there had been a “significant negative impact” from “the unsettled labor conditions.” Notably, Sine had earlier been one of the analysts predicting strikers might return to work when FairPoint terminated their health coverage.

“Our members saw this attack coming a long way off, so we were prepared for it,” said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400. “FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu was a top official at Hawaiian Telcom when they launched a similar attack on their workers, so we’ve seen this playbook. We’ve been putting away money and bracing ourselves for this for more than a year.”

Roughly 500 striking FairPoint workers and supporters from across the Northeast rallied in Portland’s Monument Square on Saturday. Speakers at the rally recounted the troubled negotiations that led to the strike, which began on Oct. 17. During five months of bargaining that began in April, the North Carolina-based company made no substantive compromises. In August, FairPoint officials abruptly walked away from the table and imposed terms and conditions that include $700 million in savage cuts.

“This North Carolina company has imposed pay and benefit cuts that would turn good middle-class jobs into low-wage jobs with bare-bones benefits,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of New Hampshire’s IBEW Local 2320. “This contract would also let FairPoint outsource good New England jobs to unqualified contractors from out of state and overseas.”

“All throughout these talks we’ve tried to find common ground with the company,” said Mike Spillane, business manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont. “But they’ve never moved off their demands that would destroy good jobs at FairPoint. We’ve made $200 million in compromises, including a significant sharing of health care costs. It’s time for them to come back to the table with a constructive offer.”

FairPoint and union negotiators will reconvene in Boston on Nov. 18 at a meeting arranged by a federal mediator.

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.

Bernie Sanders Calls For Fairness At FairPoint

Bernie Sanders

Many people have been following the FairPoint strike. Prior to the elections many of our elected leaders have spoken out against the actions taken by FairPoint Communication.

On Oct 28th Senator Bernie Sanders called a press conference to talk about what was happening to the workers at FairPoint offices across Vermont and all of New England. The press conference talked about the issues facing workers like loosing health coverage to lost pay.  FairPoint workers also talked about how much they care about their local communities who are struggling with long wait times for services and long outages.

Definitely worth the 15 minutes to watch it all.

View on YouTube

Candidates Backing #FairnessAtFairPoint Workers Prevail Up and Down the Ballot in N.H.

FairPoint Communications

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

New Hampshire workers’ fight for good jobs at North Carolina-based telecom company played factor in final gubernatorial debate and many races

More than 100 N.H. candidates signed statement supporting workers at FairPoint, which wants to pay some new employees poverty wages

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Granite State voters gave a boost to striking FairPoint workers in Tuesday’s elections. Up and down the ballot, candidates who supported the FairPoint strikers did well on election night.

At the top of the ticket, Gov. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen both won re-election. Both had issued statements during their campaigns calling on FairPoint, the North Carolina-based telecom provider, to return to the bargaining table and settle a fair contract with its workers in northern New England. (In breaking news, union representatives of the FairPoint workers announced Tuesday that the company is coming back to the bargaining table to meet with them on Nov. 18.)

In the final Granite State debate, Hassan offered strong support for the strikers, saying “I’ll continue to urge this North Carolina company to think about New Hampshire-specific solutions and the New Hampshire workers who are really trying to come to the table and work with the company.”

“From the U.S. Senate to the state legislature, New Hampshire voters backed candidates who took a strong stand for good jobs,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of Local 2320 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents 700 FairPoint workers in the state. “Those voters are FairPoint’s customers. Knowing that they elected leaders committed to our cause gives us serious strength.”

FairPoint’s union workers began negotiations for a new contract in April and offered the company more than $200 million in cost savings. But FairPoint officials refused to make any substantive compromises during five months of bargaining. In August, the company walked away from the table and imposed conditions that would force $700 million in savage cuts on workers.

Under the terms FairPoint has imposed, some new employees will make less than the poverty level for a family of four. The imposed terms also allow FairPoint to outsource skilled work to out-of-state and overseas contractors. The union workers are striking to keep good jobs in New Hampshire and ensure a living wage for every FairPoint worker.

During this year’s elections, the FairPoint strikers received strong support from New Hampshire elected officials and candidates. Well over 100 of them signed a strong statement of support for the workers circulated by the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

The statement reads, in part: “I support the FairPoint workers who are currently on strike, fighting to protect good, middle-class jobs that strengthen our communities,” and urges the company’s executives “to reach a fair settlement that gets employees back on the job, and allows workers, the company and our communities to prosper.”

A full list of New Hampshire candidates and elected officials who signed the AFL-CIO statement is at this link: http://tinyurl.com/mtsx6pc

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 Workers Set the Record Straight in Response to Company’s Misleading Ads

FairPoint Communications

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

The union workers of FairPoint Communications have issued a letter to newspapers across northern New England. The letter clarifies a number of misleading claims made by FairPoint executives in a full-page advertisement that the company placed in many of the region’s daily newspapers. The text of the workers’ letter is immediately below:

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 of 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 as little as minimum wage. 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 minimum-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 $540 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.

- Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager, IBEW Local 2327, Maine,

Chair of IBEW System Council T-9, Maine, N.H., Vermont

- Glenn Brackett, Business Manager, IBEW Local 2320, New Hampshire

- Mike Spillane, Business Manager, IBEW Local 2326, Vermont

- Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400, Maine, N.H., Vermont

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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