FairPoint, northern New England unions come to impasse over contract proposals

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FairPoint and workers represented by its northern New England labor unions International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have failed to come to an agreement after the previously collective bargaining agreements expired three weeks ago.

The six-year union contracts expired on midnight Aug. 2, but FairPoint and the two labor unions said they will continue to talk to work out a new agreement.

On Aug. 27, FairPoint implemented its final proposals, which it said the unions have "repeatedly rejected." It added that this action is permitted by federal labor law when there is no meaningful prospect for a negotiated settlement.

During a meeting with FairPoint on Wednesday, the CWA and IBEW said they made another "comprehensive" contract proposal, adding that the telco has "not countered any union proposal in three weeks."

Although FairPoint had 15 management representatives on its bargaining team, the telco's chief negotiator said he needed to talk with management and would get back to the unions.

In a release, FairPoint said it has told the unions that it would rather reach collective bargaining agreements and has implemented its proposals because it does not see an agreement being made given the unions' bargaining position.

"The company would prefer negotiated agreements but feels the offer being implemented, which includes 1. no change to the current wage rates for current employees, 2. substantially the same benefit plans, including medical, as are available to management employees, 3. a freeze of the existing defined benefit pension plan, while preserving employees' current accrued benefits, and 4. elimination of retiree medical for current employees, is fair to its hard-working and valued workforce," said Angelynne Amores Beaudry, FairPoint corporate communications director, in a release. "It is regrettable that the issues could not be resolved through bargaining."

For more:
- see the release
- and this IBEW post

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