IBEW members at FairPoint Communications have
been on strike since Oct. 17.

Union leaders representing employees at FairPoint Communications will join the company in talks with mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Jan 4. in an effort to restart contract negotiations that stalled last October. 

“We appreciate the mediator’s work to bring the two sides together,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the unions’ bargaining committee and business manager of Augusta, Maine, Local 2327. “This is a positive step. It’s time to reach a fair deal for working families and communities in New England.”

Nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees – comprised of IBEW and CWA members – went on strike Oct. 17 citing management’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith after company representatives walked away from contract negotiations. FairPoint has demanded millions in concessions from its workforce, frozen employee pensions and eliminated retiree health care.

The new round of talks comes on the heels of a December National Labor Relations Board decision dismissing the unions’ charges that FairPoint had bargained in bad faith. 

“Unfortunately, U.S. labor law favors corporations like FairPoint – not working people,” McLaughlin said. “We remain united and committed in our fight to fairness at FairPoint.”

Now in its third month, the strike has been hard for IBEW members and for thousands of customers enduring service outages and long wait times for repairs, said Montpelier, Vt., Local 2326 Business Manager Mike Spillane.

“FairPoint’s contingency workers have failed to keep up with our winter weather,” he said. “We are ready to find common ground for the good of our communities.”

The talks will be at FMCS’ offices in Washington, D.C. The process requires that negotiators on both sides will not be allowed to disclose any information about the meetings once they begin.

About 1,700 striking FairPoint workers comprise IBEW System Council T-9, which includes Manchester, N.H., Local 2320; Montpelier Local 2326; and Augusta Local 2327.