Fairpoint

Emily Corwin, NHPR

 A union representing FairPoint Communications workers in New Hampshire says it will meet with the company this week over plans to cut 260 positions.

FairPoint Communications says it will cut about 260 positions, including many in northern New England, as part of a restructuring. 

In its statement, FairPoint did not specify the number of job cuts in the region, but the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America, which represent many FairPoint workers, say there will be 219 layoffs in the region, which they say would comprise about 10 percent of the workforce. 

Most of FairPoint Communications' unionized workers return to their jobs today after a strike that lasted more than four months.

Last weekend, they ratified a new contract with the company, but unlike past negotiations with FairPoint and its predecessors, the new pact does not represent an improvement over the expired agreement.

Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

New Hampshire FairPoint workers who have been on strike since October will vote on a new labor agreement Saturday. Ratification meetings will take place in both Manchester and Portsmouth.

Vermont workers cast their on Friday; Maine workers will follow suit on Sunday.

The new agreement comes after more than a month of negotiations led by a federal mediator.

 

Union representatives say ratification of the contract will be announced Sunday night. If successful, more than 1,700 striking workers could be back to work as early as next week.

Via Fairpoint's Facebook page

 

FairPoint Communications has agreed to hold public meetings around New Hampshire to discuss its service levels as part of a $13 million contract to provide Internet and telecommunications services for the state.

The Executive Council approved the contract Wednesday after putting it off last month due to service concerns. About 1,700 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have been on strike since October over stalled contract negotiations, and the state has received increased complaints about services during the strike.

Members of Congress from Vermont and New Hampshire have called on the Federal Communications Commission to assess the ability of FairPoint Communications to operate emergency communications networks in both states following outages last year.

There was a six-hour outage of Vermont's 911 system in November and a four-hour outage of Portsmouth, New Hampshire 911 services in December.

FairPoint Communication and unions representing more than 1,700 striking workers are headed back to the bargaining table.  

Top leaders from both negotiating teams are to gather in Washington, D.C., at the request of Allison Beck, acting director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.  The unions said the meeting is Sunday.  

The last session convened by a federal mediator in Boston on Nov. 18 ended with no progress.  

Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

 

FairPoint Communications says the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed complaints accusing the company of bargaining in bad faith, disappointing news for striking workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said they were appealing. Pete McLaughlin, head of the union negotiating committee, said the unions remain "united and committed in our fight for fairness at FairPoint."

State officials have delayed action on a $13 million contract with FairPoint Communications amid concerns about how the company’s ongoing labor dispute is impacting services.

The contract was set to go before the Executive Council today, but the commissioner of administrative services agreed to put it off until next month.

Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern says he’s received numerous complaints from FairPoint customers about issues with their phone and internet service.

Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

Two members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation are urging officials with FairPoint to settle its labor dispute with workers in northern New England.

More than 1,700 FairPoint workers in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont have been on strike since Oct. 17.

In a letter sent to FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and 2nd District Congresswoman Anne Kuster urged the company to return to the bargaining table.

In the letter, Shaheen and Kuster say the ongoing dispute has disrupted service to customers, including for emergency responders.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

FairPoint workers marked the tenth week of their strike with a rally on the Statehouse plaza in Concord Friday.

The workers held signs in protest and weren’t shy about sharing their reaction to a recent statement by FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu accusing the union of not bargaining in good faith.

“If I say ‘Sunu’ you say liar!” said Glenn Brackett, leading the chant.

“Liar!” the crowd of 200 responded.

Brackett is on the union’s negotiating team, and says it’s the company that refuses to consider a fair deal.

 

FairPoint Communications says a problem that occurred during routine maintenance led to a loss of high-speed Internet service for thousands of customers in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Spokesman Jeff Nevins says the hardware problem knocked out service for all of Vermont and part of New Hampshire on Thursday.

With about 1,800 FairPoint workers on strike in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, a management employee was performing the maintenance late Wednesday on equipment that routes Internet traffic. The first outages were reported early Thursday.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

For nearly two months, more than 1,700 workers in northern New England have been off the job at Fairpoint Communications. The strike, they say, will continue until Fairpoint offers them a better contract. Fairpoint says the workers are the ones who need to compromise further.

Ibew Fairpoint via Flickr CC

Striking workers say they're not interested in an invitation by FairPoint to return to work in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The telecommunications company sent a letter last week to more than 1,700 striking workers explaining its position that the old contract was out of sync with the industry and telling workers that they're welcome to return under terms imposed by the company.

Via Fairpoint's Facebook page

The first meeting of FairPoint and unions representing workers in northern New England since late August has failed to produce a breakthrough.

Both the company and unions representing more than 1,700 striking workers blamed each other for failing to offer a compromise.

The chairman of the unions' bargaining committee said FairPoint seems intent on running the company into the ground by failing to compromise. Likewise, the company accused the unions of making no proposals "and for that reason the impasse continues."

FairPoint Communications and representatives of more than 1,700 striking workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are going back to the negotiating table.

A federal mediator asked the telecommunications company and two unions to meet Tuesday in Boston to see if they can find any common ground that could end a strike by more than 1,700 workers.

It's the first meeting since FairPoint declared an impasse in late August.

Workers have now been on strike for a month.

FairPoint Communications is asking the public for help to stem recent vandalism against its property, prompting striking workers to deny union members are responsible.

A spokeswoman for FairPoint says the company has investigated eight incidents of vandalism to "key components" of its infrastructure in the nine days since the strike started. The vandalism has been reported to police. The spokeswoman says the company investigated only one such incident in the five prior years.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  With no meetings scheduled between Fairpoint and union heads, there appears to be no movement to resolve the strike that began last week.

Workers at the Manchester office have been picketing in front of the building around the clock since the strike began Friday. Roughly 250 Manchester employees are among the more than 1,700 workers on strike in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.

Kelly Torosian is an IBEW union member and Fairpoint employee who joined the picketers.

 

FairPoint Communications is assuring telephone and Internet customers that the company has plans in place to deal with the strike by more than 1,700 workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Company spokeswoman Angelynne Amores Beaudry also says this morning the company remains willing to listen to any union proposal that "meaningfully addresses the core issues of these negotiations."

Union workers at FairPoint picketed outside locations in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont Tuesday morning. This comes as contract negotiations with the company are set to resume Wednesday.

The two sides have been at the bargaining table since April and through the expiration of the workers’ last six-year contract on August second.

New Hampshire union negotiator Glenn Brackett says the company plans to increase health care costs, freeze the pension fund and hire out-of-state contractors without union permission.

Unions representing FairPoint Communications workers in northern New England say preliminary vote counts suggest an overwhelming majority of members support authorizing a strike.  Negotiations began in April on a contract that expires Aug. 2. Workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont recently held meetings to vote on whether to authorize a strike. Voting has finished in Maine and Vermont, but has been extended in New Hampshire due to storm damage.