AUGUSTA, Maine -- 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 25.
"We continue to be disappointed that - despite weeks of good faith negotiations on our part - the company has refused to move off their initial proposal that requires customers and employees to bear the full burden of cost savings," said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont, one of the three locals that comprise System Council T-9. "No one wants a strike, but management continues to push us closer. This strike vote is our first step towards that possible end."
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. "We've seen it time and time again when companies hire outside contractors to do the work of skilled, local employees, customers suffer," said Spillane. "Our members understand the specific needs of Northern New England customers and have been meeting those needs for decades."
"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."