Labor contracts covering more than 1,000 northern New England union employees of the legacy phone and internet company Consolidated Communications approached expiration Saturday night as negotiations continued on a new deal.

Workers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America voted last month to authorize a strike if they did not reach an agreement with the company.

The unions have been bargaining a new contract with Consolidated since March.

Peter McLaughlin, business manager for IBEW 2327 in Augusta, said the unions and management continued bargaining on an agreement Saturday night and the unions had not decided whether to strike. The Maine union represents about 450 Consolidated workers.

“Right now, we are still talking and we are trying to avoid a strike,” McLaughlin said. “That is the goal; nobody likes to strike.”

Unions have said major issues in negotiations include the company’s desire to use outside contractors for union work and transfer work outside of New England.

“This is where we are at, we are having in-depth discussions on the remaining key issues,” McLaughlin said.

In a statement Saturday, Consolidated said it has and will continue to bargain in good faith.

“However, if either union decides to strike, the company has a comprehensive contingency plan in place to minimize potential service disruptions,” said Senior Vice President for Operations Ryan Whitlock.

The Illinois telecommunications company in 2017 bought Fairpoint Communications and operates the largest phone and broadband internet network in northern New England.

Unionized workers for Fairpoint went on strike in 2014 and authorized another strike in 2018 before reaching an agreement with management.

Labor unions that represent Consolidated workers include IBEW 2327 in Maine, IBEW 2320 in New Hampshire, IBEW 2326 in Vermont and CWA 1400 across New England.


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