Leaders of two unions representing more than 1,700 FairPoint Communications workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont say they’re going after the CEO, board members and corporate owners for refusing to negotiate.

The Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers vowed to take their demonstrations “to a new level” by targeting the CEO, board members and corporate owners where they live and work. As part of that effort, the unions picketed this week outside a New York event where FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu was speaking.

“We think they’re trying to provoke a strike,” Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, said Friday.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based FairPoint Communications Inc., which offers Internet, phone and other services, ended labor negotiations by declaring an impasse last month.

Since then, the company has been implementing a new contract with provisions that’ve angered union workers, like Friday’s elimination of contributions to a fund that assists workers with day care costs.

A FairPoint spokeswoman said the company has never refused to meet with the union, and she accused the unions of using “inflammatory rhetoric” and “scare tactics.”


“We’ve been at the bargaining table since April. When the unions say they want FairPoint to come back, what they really mean is that they want FairPoint to abandon its final positions on issues that are critical to the future of the company. This we won’t do,” spokeswoman Angelynne Amores Beaudry said Friday.

The contract that’s being imposed by the company freezes the existing defined benefit pension plan and rolls contributions into a new plan. It also allows the company to hire contractors, eliminates retiree health care benefits for current workers and requires workers to share some health care costs.

Unions contend the company is not bargaining in good faith. They’ve asked the National Labor Relations Board to intervene, reinstate the old contract and order the company to resume negotiations.

While the unions have authorized a strike, they fear that doing so could be costly to the company and its union workforce.

“At the end of the day we realize the strike helps no one, especially the customers. And if there’s no customer base, there’s no company,” Trementozzi said. “We care more for the customers than they do.”

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