The Electrical Worker online
July 2013

Telecom Workers To FairPoint CEO: Let's Talk
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On June 3, with a little over one year to go before their contract with FairPoint Communications expires, business managers and co-workers representing 1,700 IBEW members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont traveled to the company's annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

Several weeks before the meeting, IBEW locals had sent a letter to the company calling for early negotiations. The company eliminated 300 union jobs in 2011 and, in April, cut 90 more. The union offered to sit down with FairPoint and discuss ways to improve business without more job losses. After they received no response, they decided to head south.

Outside the meeting, IBEW members handed out a flier calling upon the company — Verizon's successor in copper line service — to help address a deteriorating labor-management relationship by agreeing to early talks.

"Labor and management should solve problems, not create them … It's time for more cooperation and open dialogue ... Working in partnership benefits shareholders, customers, employees and management," the flier said.

Inside the meeting, Peter McLaughlin, business manager of Augusta, Maine, Local 2327 and chairman of IBEW System Council T-9, took the microphone. He agreed with FairPoint CEO's assessment that the outcome of negotiations on a new agreement with IBEW is "pivotal for the company," but expressed disappointment that FairPoint was refusing invitations to sit down and talk with the union. "It's a shame we had to travel so far just to talk to the management of our company," he said.

Manchester, N.H., Local 2320 Business Manager Glenn Brackett told the blog, "I'm disappointed by the company's refusal to engage in a dialogue with us. We understand the challenges in the telecom industry, and we want to partner with management to find solutions and increase productivity."

Says International President Edwin D. Hill, "IBEW members and FairPoint's consumers deserve a better relationship with the company that flows from an understanding that everyone loses when the parties cannot sit down and work through problems. We will continue our efforts to build a more productive bargaining relationship with the FairPoint, whatever it takes."


'It's a shame we had to travel 1,000 miles just to talk to the management of our company,' said Peter McLaughlin, business manager of Augusta, Maine, Local 2327.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user wistechcolleges.