Union activists took to the streets of New York City to make the case for striking northern New England FairPoint workers. The demonstrators made their case outside a New York conference attended by executives from Wall Street hedge fund Angelo, Gordon, the telco's biggest stakeholder.
"The hypocrisy of Angelo, Gordon is appalling," Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA District 1, said in a press release. "They want to make huge profits by invest public employees' pensions and then they stand by while FairPoint tries to gut workers' pensions and end retiree health care. This is a betrayal of their investors and the public and we will expose it at every opportunity."
In addition to CWA, members of IBEW System Council T-9 are on strike against the telecom company.
Union members demonstrated in front of the Union League Club in Manhattan as the 2014 CIO Leaders in Alternative Investing Summit began.
"We are here today to send a message of FairPoint's Wall Street investors. We will continue to support our sisters and brothers in northern New England as long as this struggle for good jobs and quality service continues. Their fight is our fight against these wolves of Wall Street," said Dennis Trainor, assistant to the vice president of District 1 of the CWA.
FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Beaudry, in turn, issued a press release stating that FairPoint's "desire is to provide our employees with quality jobs, with good wages and with mainstream healthcare and retirement benefits."
FairPoint strikers earned an average of $82,500 in 2013--"nearly twice the median personal income in the region," she said--and the company "did not seek wage concessions."
The bone of contention between the two sides is benefits.
"We took the initiative to move approximately 1,700 employees to benefit plans that are the same or substantially similar to the plans all other FairPoint employees receive, including management. But our employees struck over this wage and benefit package," she said in the press release. "It was the unions who decided to strike and it will be the unions who will decide when to end their strike."
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