Flickr/Creative Commons photo by Mike Mozart.
The IBEW recently negotiated a proposed contract with Frontier Communications that covers about 800 members in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina.  

One of three IBEW bargaining units that represents Frontier Communications employees has reached a tentative four-year agreement with the company that guarantees wage increases and protects the current pension system.

The unit, known as MIFA 1, represents about 800 members in Michigan, Ohio and the Carolinas. It is part of System Council T-7, which also includes MIFA 2 and MIFA 3. Both of those groups have active agreements with Frontier.

Mason, Mich., Local 1106 Business Manager Michael J. Brosseau, the council chairman and head of the MIFA 1 negotiating committee, noted members covered by the agreement would still have access to the highly-regarded NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care plan instead of being forced into the company’s health-insurance plan. Members covered by the agreement also would retain their medical spending accounts.

If the contract is ratified, members will receive a 2 percent raise retroactive to the beginning of this year. They will receive a 2 percent raise in 2019, 2.25 percent in 2020 and 2.5 percent in 2021. The company is doing away with performance bonuses.

Brosseau said the negotiating committee is recommending approval because of the guaranteed pay raises, which are increasingly difficult to secure in a rapidly-changing telecommunications industry. Frontier has been hard hit in particular, seeing its stock price falling in recent days amid reports it is struggling with too much debt.

“Because of the economic hardship the company is having, this is the best contract we can get,” Brosseau said.

Employees’ contributions to their medical insurance gradually will increase from 13 to 16 percent, although they will have access to a better plan with the IBEW/NECA plan than most others working in the industry.

Another key point for members: The pension system offered by Frontier remains unchanged. If approved, members covered by the agreement will still have the option to accept a lump-sum payment or monthly distribution upon retirement.

A systemwide vote on the proposal is expected to be held around mid-July, Brosseau said.

Local unions besides 1106 with members covered by the proposed agreement are Columbus, Ohio, Local 71; Durham, N.C., Local 289; and Sumpter, S.C., Local 1431.

Besides Brosseau, other members of the negotiating committee were Local 289 Business Manager Felton Perry, Local 1431 Business Manager Troy Strickland and Local 71 Assistant Business Manager Fred Sabol.