Deal Could Cripple One of America’s Most Tech-Savvy Regions
July 17, 2009
In the upper Northwest, one of the most tech-savvy parts of America, there’s growing concern that a deal between Verizon Communications
and Frontier Communications will mean major trouble for the area’s future. As part of a 14-state deal, Verizon wants to sell its rural phone
systems—including networks in Washington, Oregon and northern California—to Frontier for $8.6 billion.
"We've always been a leader in communications in this part of the country," said Ray Egelhoff, business manager of IBEW
Local 89, outside Seattle, Wash. "If this happens, we’re afraid businesses won’t move in, and some may even move out."
Egelhoff, along with more than 1,500 Verizon workers who may become Frontier employees, has deluged officials with letters and e-mails
expressing their concerns. More than 500 have gone out so far to senators, house members, governors and business leaders. The workers worry Frontier
—at about the a third the size of Verizon—won’t be able to absorb the huge Verizon assets, won’t be able to keep customers happy and,
eventually, will have to shed staff.
Last year, Verizon sold off part of its business to FairPoint Communications. The deal left FairPoint on the verge of bankruptcy as
frustrated consumers flooded regulators with complaints about bad service. A similar scene unfolded in Hawaii, where Hawaii Telecom bought significant
Verizon assets, only to file for bankruptcy a few years later.
Workers and Consumers Will Suffer Under the Verizon-Frontier Deal
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers joins the Communications Workers of America in speaking out against
plans for Verizon to sell $8.6 billion dollars in assets to Frontier Communications.
Here's what Robert Erickson, International Representative in the IBEW's Telecommunications Department, had to say about the sale:
"The deal poses risks to consumers and employees. Frontier is making all kinds of promises about synergy and how they'll expand
broadband. FairPoint Communications made the same grand claims and now they can’t meet their commitments and fulfill the promises they made. It's clear
that Frontier will be in a similar situation and not have the resources to fulfill the commitments they are making."