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New York State Comptroller Intervenes In FairPoint Labor Dispute

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Calls on Major Hedge Fund Owner and FairPoint Investor to Ensure Fair Treatment of Workers

Augusta, ME—On September 3rd, Thomas DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York, wrote to John Angelo, CEO of Angelo, Gordon & Co.—owner of almost 20 percent of FairPoint stock—to express his concern about reports that FairPoint has violated federal law in bargaining with representatives of almost 2,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in northern New England.

  • DiNapoli is sole Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), the nation’s third largest public pension fund, which invests the assets of more than one million members, retirees, and beneficiaries of the retirement system in New York State.
  • The CRF is an investor in the AG Super Fund, a hedge fund managed by Angelo, Gordon & Co.
  • In addition to owning almost 20 percent of FairPoint stock, Angelo, Gordon & Co. has a designee on FairPoint’s Board of Directors.

According to Mr. DiNapoli’s letter, “In our experience as a long-term institutional investor, where a company has a constructive relationship with its workers and provides sustainable retirement benefits, the company becomes a stronger, more profitable, and more enduring enterprise.”

He went on to say that, “We are, therefore, concerned by publicly reported allegations that FairPoint has not acted in good faith and has violated federal law; specifically, assertions that FairPoint improperly declared an impasse in collective bargaining and unlawfully imposed” the terms of its final contract proposals.

Union leaders welcomed Mr. DiNapoli’s intervention. “Angelo, Gordon is the largest FairPoint stockholder and has tremendous influence over management’s decisions. We hope that Mr. Angelo takes seriously this intervention by Mr. DiNapoli, who represents one of the largest pension funds in the US,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 and chair of the unions’ bargaining committee.

The Chairman of FairPoint’s Board of Directors, Edward Horowitz, recently informed an advisor to union leaders that members of the Board have been briefed on the company’s bargaining position and that the Board fully endorses that position.

“It is disappointing to hear that members of FairPoint’s Board of Directors support the company’s attacks on working families across northern New England,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “We believe that our members are the reason this company emerged from bankruptcy and has begun to recover after its truly ill-advised purchase of Verizon. We will continue to educate investors like the CRF about this company’s decision to put short-term profits above the long-term interests of its workers, customers, and their communities.”

View the letter here.

Labor Unions Representing Tens of Thousands of New Hampshire Workers Endorse Jeanne Shaheen

Manchester — Just one day after Scott Brown declared he has no interest in promoting economic development here in our state, New Hampshire labor unions representing tens of thousands of Granite State workers including the NH AFL-CIO, SEIU, NEA, Teamsters, Iron Workers, Electrical Workers, Food and Commercial Workers, Postal Workers, and Laborers, endorsed New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reelection. In their endorsements, workers highlighted Shaheen’s commitment to creating good paying jobs and her record standing up for New Hampshire workers and their families. Meanwhile, Scott Brown has shown that he’s only looking out for one job, his own, after it was recently reported that he is collecting a hefty paycheck from a company that shipped jobs overseas. Yesterday, Brown declared he wasn’t going to work to create jobs in the Senate.

“I’m honored to have the support of so many New Hampshire workers and their families,” said Shaheen. “Every day in the U.S. Senate, my number one priority has always been to strengthen our economy and create good paying jobs here in New Hampshire so everyone who works hard can earn a decent living for their families. I’ll never stop fighting to increase the minimum wage, invest in our state’s roads and bridges, and close loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. These are commonsense solutions that will make a real difference for people throughout New Hampshire.”

Jeanne Shaheen has fought to strengthen the state’s economy and create good paying jobs for New Hampshire workers. She reached across party lines to secure new funding to widen I-93 and rebuild the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge, both of which created jobs for workers across the state. Shaheen stood up to members of her own party to protect thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She also voted to close tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and is fighting to raise the minimum wage because it’s what’s right for New Hampshire families.

Scott Brown has opposed increasing the minimum wage and voted to support tax loopholes for companies that offshore American jobs. Recently, the Nashua Telegraph reported that Brown has made over a quarter million dollars as a board member of a company that touts outsourcing American jobs to China and Mexico as part of its business plan. Legal documents dated just two days before Brown entered the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire bear his signature endorsing the company’s outsourcing strategy.

“This election, we’re going door to door because there’s a real contrast in this race between someone running for New Hampshire working families and someone who’s in this race to line his own pockets,” said Mark Mackenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “While Jeanne Shaheen puts New Hampshire first, Scott Brown puts his bank account first, refusing to resign from the board of a company that offshored American jobs to increase its profits. We don’t stand for that here in New Hampshire.”

“As a former teacher herself, Jeanne Shaheen knows the importance of ensuring every child has access to an affordable, quality education,” said NH National Education Association President Scott McGilvray. “It’s an insult to working families that Scott Brown would sit on the Board of Directors of a company that sent American jobs to China and Mexico to increase its bottom line. What Scott Brown needs to understand is that the offshoring practices he endorsed don’t just hurt workers, they hurt communities and they hurt kids.”

“Senator Shaheen has shown time and time again she can reach across the aisle and get things done for the people of New Hampshire,” said Steven Burk, NH Business Agent and Political Liason for the Ironworkers. “She’s worked to create good paying jobs here in our state, including the rebuilding of the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge, which our workers were proud to be a part of. New Hampshire working people deserve a Senator who will stand up for them, fight to increase the minimum wage, and close loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas–not one who supports special interests and lines his own pockets while claiming to represent us.”

“Jeanne Shaheen understands that investing in New Hampshire’s infrastructure not only creates good paying jobs, but also strengthens our economy in the long run,” said New Hampshire Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer David Laughton. “Scott Brown is still cashing in from his role on the board of a company that shipped American jobs overseas. While he profits, working people suffer. Here in New Hampshire, we’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.”

“The bottom line is Jeanne Shaheen understands that people in New Hampshire have bills to pay, kids to send to college, and food to put on the table–all while trying to save for retirement,” said Diana Lacey, SEIU 1984 President. “Scott Brown didn’t just vote for tax breaks for companies that offshore American jobs, he sits on the board of one of those companies himself.”

“Senator Shaheen supported every postal worker in New Hampshire when she personally urged members of the Appropriations Committee to protect the USPS service standards, helping to preserve a vital public service,” said Dana Coletti, New Hampshire President of the American Postal Workers Union. “Jeanne Shaheen looks out for the people of New Hampshire and has always put the families of this state first.”

“As Governor and Senator, Jeanne Shaheen’s worked to create good paying jobs by investing in infrastructure and education right here in New Hampshire,” said Joe Bonfiglio, President of the Massachusetts & Northern New England Laborers’ District Council. “Scott Brown on the other hand seems to care more about the economies of China and Mexico. He’s made a quarter million dollars on the board of a company that shipped jobs overseas to increase profits. We need a Senator who prioritizes working people here in New Hampshire, and that Senator is Jeanne Shaheen.”

We’re proud to endorse Jeanne Shaheen for reelection to the United States Senate,” said Jim Carvalho, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 Political Director. “She has a long record of fighting to create good paying jobs and looking out for working families here in New Hampshire. As a Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that ship jobs overseas. Now, he’s collecting money sitting on the board of a company that touts relying on low cost manufacturing jobs in China and Mexico as a part of its business plan. That’s not the representation our state deserves to have in the Senate.”

“Jeanne Shaheen is a Senator New Hampshire working people can trust. Her top priority has always been to create new jobs and she’s delivered for New Hampshire time and time again,” said Joe Casey, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 490. “Scott Brown is in this race for nobody but Big Oil, Wall Street and himself. I can’t believe he’d vote for tax breaks for all these special interests but won’t support increasing the minimum wage so working people can support their families. Now he’s making money off of a company that shipped jobs overseas? We need to keep Jeanne Shaheen in the Senate.”

One WMUR Photographer Explains Why You Should Support Their Fight Against Heart Communications

The WMUR Photographers are asking for our help and support as they go against Hearst Communications, the owners of WMUR.

Dan Ryan, one of the 13 photographers from WMUR explained the situation to the crowd at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.

Please show your support, by sharing this post or video with your friends.  If you are on twitter, please tweet to @WMUR9 and include @WMURphotog9

Click here to tweet: I support the @WMURphotog9, who deserve the same benefits as everyone else @WMUR http://wp.me/p2yHP6-4jJ #Solidarity @IBEW  @NHlabor_News

From a previous NHLN post:

Informational Picket at the Republican Primary Debates

September 2nd through the 5th

At WMUR 100 South Commercial Street, Manchester, NH

SUPPORT  IBEW  PHOTOGRAPHERS IBEW Local 1228

Ibew logoSince 2005, the WMUR Photographers have been the only Employees in the Station without a pension plan. Despite the fact that they tried to bargain for it repeatedly, Hearst, the parent Company of WMUR has refused to grant it. In fact, another unit of Employees at the Station who are represented by Local 1228 have that pension. Why not these 13 workers?

On Wednesday August 20th IBEW Local 1228 sent notice to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett that they were terminating the Contract effective August 30. The move was made so that the Photographers can legally launch a public awareness campaign and to engage in concerted actions if needed.

All we are asking for is equal treatment for the Employees that capture and deliver the news, every day. But the Hearst Corporation’s attitude is “we have no appetite for it”. How ridiculous! These Employees risk their physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire. They work side by side with first responders, shoot the video and edit these stories to inform and educate the citizens of New Hampshire. They generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and deserve equal treatment in retirement benefits.

These Republican primary debates are important to WMUR for continued political revenue and their community image.

We ask you to join us there from 5-7pm each evening and help us send a message to Hearst that corporate greed will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.

      

         follow us on twitter: @wmurphotog9

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.

IBEW Photographers Terminate Contract with WMUR Over Fair and Equal Treatment.

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WMUR Photographers on the job at a local press conference

On Wednesday August 20th IBEW Local 1228 sent notice to WMUR Station Manager Jeff Bartlett that they were terminating the Contract effective August 30. The move was made so that the Photographers can legally launch a public awareness campaign and to engage in concerted actions if needed.

The Photographer/Editors have been in Negotiations with the Hearst owned WMUR since October of 2013and one of the main points of bargaining has been the pension plan that other Union and non-Union Employees enjoy at the Station.

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WMUR Photographers on the job during a snowstorm

“Since 2005, virtually all other Employees at WMUR have been allowed to participate in a 401K and a Pension Plan. All except for the Photographers. This is wrong and needs to finally be addressed.” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer. “All we are asking for is equal treatment for the Employees that capture and deliver the news, every day. But the Hearst Corporation who owns WMUR has consistently refused saying they ‘have no appetite for it’. How ridiculous. These Employees risk their physical and mental health daily to report the news including politics, tragedies, heart wrenching events and stories of hope from all over New Hampshire. They work side by side with first responders, shoot the video and edit these stories to inform and educate the citizens of New Hampshire. They generate the revenue Hearst enjoys from this station and deserve equal treatment in retirement benefits.”

IMG_7689

WMUR Photographers on the job at a house fire

Hearst is one of the largest diversified communications companies in the world. Its major interests include 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers and more than 300 magazines worldwide; 29 television stations through Hearst Television, Inc., which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including A+E and ESPN. For the third year in a row, privately held Hearst is projecting record earnings, as well as record revenue of nearly $10 billion. Yet we have been told that they cannot afford to put 13 photographers into the Pension Plan that other Union members are in at the Station. It is unconscionable that such a wealthy corporation refuses to do the honorable thing and treat all their WMUR workers alike.

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.”

FairPoint Strike On Hold As Talks Continue — From InZane Times

 

Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

A strike by Fairpoint workers is still possible but negotiations have not ended, a union spokesperson announced an hour short of the strike deadline this evening.  “Make no mistake, this fight is not

Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

over,” Glenn Brackett of the IBEWtold a hundred or so union members and allies outside Fairpoint’s downtown Manchester office at 11 pm. “We will continue to mobilize until we get a contract that’s fair.”

Brackett said workers should return to work but that a strike could be called at any time.  Terms and conditions of the expired contract will remain in effect while negotiations continue.

“The company has been very unresponsive to many of the major proposals we have made,” Bracket said, adding that the company’s attitude has been dismissive and antagonistic.  

 

Image by Arnie Alpert

Image by Arnie Alpert

He explained that the company had turned down a union proposal that would have saved the company millions of dollars.  

Fairpoint workers are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America.

 

 

 

No Strike Yet. IBEW And CWA Members Stand Ready To Strike Against FairPoint

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil Last night FairPoint workers and labor supporters gathered to hold a “candle light vigil” for the IBEW and CWA contract.  In Manchester nearly 100 union members and labor supporters showed up.  We filled the street corner in front of the FairPoint building on Elm Street with people chanting and holding signs. 

We were all gathered to hear to the news from the IBEW/CWA negotiating team. Business Agent Glenn Brackett arrived around 11 pm and read the following statement: 

Statement by IBEW System Council T9 and CWA Local 1400
August 2, 2014

The Union and the Company have not reached a new collective bargaining agreement.

We will be working under the terms and conditions of the existing contract.

Your bargaining team is committed to continue negotiating until we reach a fair and equitable contract. 

This process has been long and grueling, and the company has been unresponsive to major proposals that the union has made. They have continued to be antagonistic and dismissive of all attempts to reach a fair and equitable agreement. 

We retain the right to strike and to do so without notice. Make no mistake this fight is not over and it is essential we continue to mobilize our membership.

As it stands right now, FairPoint workers will continue to work under the existing rules of their current contract.  They can go out on strike at any time, but have chosen to hold off on that for now.  

Kelly Upham-Torosian District VP for NH AFLCIO , Glenn Brackett is Business Manager IBEW, Mark MacKenzie NH AFLCIO President

Kelly Upham-Torosian District VP for NH AFLCIO , Glenn Brackett is Business Manager IBEW, Mark MacKenzie NH AFLCIO President

Stay strong brothers and sisters, we are all behind you.  

Call me if you choose to strike, I will happily walk the line with you.

UPDATED – 10:05 Am

Fairness at FairPoint just sent out this guidance for members to better understand what this current situation means.

The Union and the Company have not reached a new collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, the unions have decided to continue to work beyond expiration, without a contract, in order to fight for our bargaining objectives:

* Negotiations will continue. The bargaining committee is committed to continue negotiating until we reach a fair and equitable contract.

* Members will still earn a paycheck.

* Members will be working under the terms and conditions of the existing collective bargaining agreement. All benefits, including health care and pension, will remain in effect.

* The grievance procedure continues but arbitration may not. However, disciplinary actions can be negotiated at the bargaining table.

* Members have the right to participate in ”concerted activity.” This means that one person speaking for a group, or more than two people, can act “for mutual aid or protection.”

* The union still has the right to strike at any time.

Here are a few other pictures from last night.

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Also Fairness At FairPoint posted great pictures from last nights “vigils” around New England.  Here is an example of one from Maine.

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 To Hold Strike Authorization Vote

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerUnion leaders hope to reach agreement before contract expires August 2

Augusta, ME—Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 have scheduled a strike authorization vote for July 11-13 to take place across the FairPoint service area. The two unions represent nearly 2,000 employees of FairPoint Communications across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Their contracts expire on August 2nd and union representatives have been in negotiations with management since April 25th.

“Our members don’t want to strike – they want to continue working for their customers and families,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire, one of the three locals that comprise System Council T-9. “Unfortunately, management is unwilling to offer any proposal other than ones they themselves describe as requiring ‘deep, painful, significant concessions’ from workers.”

A strike authorization vote is a necessary precursor to a work stoppage, but does not require the union members actually go on strike. Such a decision could be made later by union leadership. Leaders expect members of both IBEW and CWA in Northern New England to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the strike authorization.

FairPoint workers say they are not just fighting to protect good jobs in their communities but to ensure the best service to customers across Northern New England. They say the company is insisting on the unlimited ability to hire low-wage temporary workers from out of state to do their work. “When companies hire outside contractors to do the work of skilled, local employees, customers are the ones who suffer,” said Brackett.

“Our members want nothing more than to continue working to provide the best service possible to our customers,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400, which consists of members across Northern New England. “Unfortunately, management continues to insist on deep cuts that we strongly believe will hurt consumers and the hard-working employees who have repeatedly saved this company, while the Wall Street hedge fund owners of FairPoint line their pockets.”

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