More than 1,800 IBEW and CWA members throughout Northern New England have ratified tentative agreements with FairPoint Communications after three days of voting.
They will return work on Feb. 25.
IBEW and CWA leaders and members are praising the pacts as a win for working families who have manned the picket lines in sub-freezing weather this winter to hold out for a better deal.
“This is great news for our members, their families and our communities,” said Augusta, Maine Local 2327 Business Manager Peter McLaughlin. “Our members remained united and committed to this fight for more than four months and today we have a fair deal that will bring them back to work and provide good service for our communities.”
FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont went on strike Oct. 17 after the company walked away from the bargaining table. FairPoint demanded millions in concessions, cuts to retirement benefits and the power to outsource New England jobs to low-paid, out-of-state contractors.
The four-month strike saw major delays in repair and service calls and increased wait times for customer service.
“Our communities have seen the results of outsourcing these last four months, and it has not been pretty,” said Manchester, N.H., Local 2320 Business Manager Glenn Brackett. “There’s no replacement for well-trained, skilled workers.”
FairPoint agreed to let employees participate in the IBEW/NECA Family Medical Care Plan, which brings better benefits and lower costs.
“It’s a better plan for less money,” said International Representative Bob Erickson. The agreement also protects retirement benefits for existing employees and maintains job security against possible outsourcing.
Community and labor groups gave strong support to FairPoint workers, raising more than $350,000 for a solidarity fund to help strikers.
Numerous elected officials throughout the region also spoke out in support of a fair contract.
The new contract will be in effect until Aug. 4, 2018.
“What happened at FairPoint proves that solidarity works,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. “By sticking together and refusing to surrender their commitment to their community and families, IBEW and CWA members have shown how the middle class can stand up and fight back.”