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FairPoint Workers Rally for a Fair Deal


November 21, 2014

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Nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees are in strike in New England.

More than 200 FairPoint Communications workers and allies rallied at the Vermont state house in Montpelier Nov. 20, calling on the telecommunications company to return to the bargaining table.

“We’re determined to get a fair contract,” said IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “And we’re ready to fight one day longer to get a fair deal.”

Nearly 2,000 FairPoint employees went on strike Oct. 17, citing management’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith after company representatives walked away from contract negotiations.

Bargaining, which began last April, was stonewalled by management, which rejected every compromise offered by union negotiations.

FairPoint wants to outsource skilled New England jobs to low-paid, out-of-state contractors. Renewed efforts to resurrect bargaining failed Nov. 18.

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IBEW President Edwin D. Hill joined 200 members of the IBEW and the CWA at the Vermont rally.

Representatives from the three IBEW locals, which represent FairPoint workers in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, spoke, as did leaders of the Communications Workers of America.

Workers also got support from elected officials included Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

“You’ve worked hard for us,” he said. “Now it’s time for FairPoint to get back to table. I stand with you.”

Members of the working Vermonters caucus in the state house also spoke, including Rep. Susan Hatch Davis.

“We stand with the union workers,” she said. “We need a fair deal for all working people.”

Other Green Mountain State unions attended the event, including members of the Vermont State Employees Association, which represents state employees. It was announced to big cheers that the VSEA had voted to donate $5,000 to a FairPoint strike fund.  

“The big issue for me is outsourcing,” said Montpellier Local 2326 member Heather Allard. “The company wants to send our jobs out of state and even out of country. I’m a born and bred Vermonter, and I want those to be here for me and my family.”

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Striking FairPoint workers rallied at the Vermont capitol in Montpelier on Nov. 20.

Local 2326 member Derek Blankenship, a 16-year FairPoint member, says the company is aiming to destroy all the rights and benefits won by employees.

Also Thursday, in Boston, pro-worker activists marched in front of the offices of Angelo, Gordon and Co., the Wall Street hedge fund which owns the biggest stake in FairPoint.

Vermont employee Andrew Pond says morale among strikers remains high, even with rapidly falling temperatures. He also says they are getting strong support from the community.

“Even college students are honking at us, cheering us on when we’re picketing.”

“They get that the middle class is under attack, and this is the frontlines of the fight.”

Go to Fairness@FairPoint for the latest updates.