Fairpoint Strike Continues

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ST. JOHNSBURY VT.- Today marks day four of the FairPoint Union strike.

 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communication Workers of America began the strike at midnight on October 16 in protest of stalled negoation talks. 

Contract negations started in April, when the company announced they would need to cut labor cost if they were to stay competitive. This could have something to do with Fairpoints previous money problems.

The company went into bankruptcy after it’s 2007 purchase of Verizon set them back $2.3 billion. It wasn’t till 2011 that they emerged from bankruptcy with the helo of it's empoyees.

The new contract asked for $700 million in concessions, which the company claimed would still leave the average Fairpoint employee with $115,000 in yearly benefits. 

     

Employees agreed to work under the new contract on August 3, 2014 the day after the previous contract expired. They agreed to this because they were told negations would continue.

 

Then said negations stalled in late August, after Fairpoint’s representatives claimed they had reached an “impasse” and walked away. 

 

According to labor laws an impasse means the company can impose it’s final contract offer onto it’s employees. For Fairpoint workers that meant a freeze on current pensions, and contributing to their health care for the first time. It also meant a defined benefit pensions for future hires and the company gaining the ability to hire non union employees. 

    

The latter is the obvious issue for the unions. According to a spokesperson for the IBEW the new contract would allow for 1,700 New England Jobs to be outsourced, though Fairpoint spokeswoman Angelynn Amores disagrees. She assured us back in August that no jobs would be eliminated under the new contract. 

     

All strikers want is what they had. Just ask Jamson Renaud who has been on strike in St. Johnsbury since Friday.

 

“We  just want people to know that we’re not asking for anything we don’t already have. We want what we have, no less, no more. We just want to keep everything status quo.” 

     

The stike may be over soon, if Amores latest statement is true. The Spokeswomen stated "While we have implemented our final proposals, we have always remained willing to negotiate and have committed to evaluate and respond to any counterproposal from the unions that meaningfully addresses the core issues of these negotiations. So far we have not received any such counterproposals,”.

     

Until some sort of agreement can be made 17,000 New Englanders, 340 of which are in Vermont,  will be out of work. Some Union members began saving back in April in preparation, others started part time jobs to fall back on during the strike. The company already had it’s own “comprehensive constituency plans” in the works. It started brining in contracted workers on Friday to “ensure the continuity of service”. 

 

 

 

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