Talks are proceeding down to the midnight Saturday deadline between Consolidated Communications and unions representing more than 1,000 workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In a statement late Saturday afternoon, company officials said they were continuing negotiations and hoped to reach an agreement before the deadline.

“We’ve made our best effort to reach an agreement and remain hopeful for a positive outcome,” said Ryan Whitlock, vice president of human resources, in a statement.

Consolidated is the communications company that bought FairPoint last year. The Illinois-based company provides landline and broadband services.

The unions representing Consolidated Communications workers authorized a strike last month if a deal isn’t reached by midnight. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America together represent more than 1,000 Consolidated workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, with about 500 workers here in Maine.

Negotiations seemed to have broken down over the company’s demand for changes to allow it to hire more independent contractors to make repairs, maintain the system or install equipment for customers.


Peter McLaughlin, business manager for the IBEW local in Maine, said Friday that another issue is the company’s proposal to transfer some work beyond Consolidated’s New England area, along with continued discussions over employee benefits.

The current contract largely restricts outsourcing for storm recovery efforts and requires the company to use the existing workforce and pay overtime for crews before it can turn to outsourcing. Consolidated wants “greater flexibility” over outsourcing, but says no IBEW workers would be laid off as a result, Whitlock said on Friday.

Whitlock said the company has “hundreds” of management employees trained to step in if workers go on strike.

McLaughlin did not return calls for comment Saturday.

This story will be updated.


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