FairPoint Deadline Passes With No Resolution
A six-year contract between FairPoint Communications and 1,700 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and 300 members of the CWA expired at midnight Aug. 2., as the parties agreed to continue talks to forge a new agreement.
"We are committed to coming to terms with FairPoint for a contract that builds, rather than undermines, the labor-management relationship that is essential to sustained success," said Augusta, Maine., Local 2327 Business Manager Peter McLaughlin.
Desite down-to-the-wire talks and the efforts of a mediator, the parties were too far apart on issues such as health insurance costs, pensions and subcontracting of work currently performed by union members.
The IBEW believes the parties can and will reach agreement and will continue to work in a creative way to obtain a new contract.The company and the unions have agreed to proceed under the conditions of the now-expired agreement pending resolution of a new one.
"We will continue our efforts to reach a reasonable agreement that is fair to both parties," said Mike Spillane, business manager of Montpelier, Vt., Local 2326.
The talks concern FairPoint customer service employees, installation technicians and cable splicers, among others, working under IBEW agreements in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
FairPoint's proposals are seeking to freeze members' pensions, weaken seniority rights, increase outsourcing, reduce health care coverage and wages and eliminate retiree health care for active employees. The company rejected the unions' last proposal, proferred on Friday.
"We understand the challenges in the telecom industry, and we want to partner with management to find solutions and increase productivity," said Manchester, N.H., Local 2320 Business Manager Glenn Brackett.
IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill said, "We are the professionals who maintain FairPoint's 21st century network and stand ready to reacha mutually beneficial agreement in the best interests of the company, the customers and the workforce."
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.