Standing in Market Square Friday afternoon, you could hear a hoarse striker’s voice cracking as he chanted along to “what do we want?” “A contract.” “When do we want it?” “Now.”
About 100 striking FairPoint workers were rallying to mark the 50th day of the strike. These unionized telecommunications workers haven’t seen a paycheck since they walked off the job in October. Many have spent the time attending rallies as far away as Montpelier, Vermont and Portland, Maine.
The unions rejected FairPoint’s first contract offer last spring. A November meeting in Boston failed to produce a breakthrough.
IBEW Business Manager Glenn Brackett organized the Portsmouth rally. He says FairPoint rejected the unions’ three comprehensive proposals without offering a compromise.
“I want FairPoint to come back to the bargaining table, bargain in good faith with the citizens of New Hampshire,” he says.
Customer Service worker Stephanie Hill has worked for FairPoint in Portland, Maine for six years. She says this strike is bigger than these 1700 workers and their contract. “This is huge,” she says, “it’s really going to set the precedent for what happens in telco across the country and across the middle class as a whole.”
Fairpoint spokesperson Angie Beaudry says FairPoint presented its final best offer on August 28, and “the ball is in their court, now.”