New England Locals Address
|Members of Charlotte, N.C., Local 379 and CWA Local 3603 arrive at rally after FairPoint shareholders meeting.|
IBEW and Communications Workers of America members were in Charlotte to ask some hard questions about negotiations on a new contract. The current agreement expires on Aug. 3. FairPoint has already announced the company is seeking 60 percent cuts in starting pay for new hires.
Union members asked how FairPoint can justify steep concessions by unions while simultaneously raising the compensation of CEO Paul Sunu by 37 percent since 2011.
|Augusta, Maine, Local 2327 member Bennie Jones thanks members of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council and community activists for supporting FairPoint workers.|
“We want to know why the board rewarded Mr. Sunu so handsomely even as management eliminated the jobs of hundreds of our co-workers and now proposes to pay new hires poverty wages,” said Serina DeWolfe, a member of CWA Local 1400.
A rally held after the meeting received widespread media coverage.
Peter McLaughlin, business manager of Augusta, Maine, Local 2327, told Maine Public Broadcasting Network that citizens usually don’t pay attention to phone workers until their “dial tones don’t work.” But everyone should know, he says, that FairPoint’s bargaining stance is just another example in a growing trend of companies asking workers to take cuts in pay, pensions and healthcare insurance while top executives are left unscathed.
Local unionists from the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council and community supporters came out to the rally.
“We believe every working person deserves respect and a fair deal. FairPoint, a company based right here in North Carolina but owned largely by Wall Street hedge funds, is attempting to destroy good jobs in northern New England. We came out today to support our brothers and sisters who traveled more than 1,000 miles to demand justice,” said Ashley Howard, a trustee of the labor council.
The IBEW represents 1,700 FairPoint members of Manchester, N.H., Local 2320; Montpelier, Vt., Local 2326; and Augusta Local 2327. The workers comprise IBEW’s System Council T-9.
For more upcoming reporting on bargaining at FairPoint, visit www.ibew.org.