Frontier imposes mandated overtime to address Verizon line issues

Frontier's (NYSE: FTR) mandate that union employees in its West Virginia have to work an average 70 hours work week to resolve lingering network and service issues is likely a move by the service provider to avoid the pitfalls that both Fairpoint (Other OTC: FRCMQ.PK) and Hawaiian Telecom faced after they purchased Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) lines.

West Virginia has been a major focus of attention for Frontier since it closed its acquisition of Verizon's lines at the beginning of this month. FiberNet, a Charleston, West Va.-based competitive service provider that purchases wholesale services from Frontier, said it's frustrated with Frontier's slow response to a number of trouble tickets. The competitive provider even went so far as to tell the West Virginia Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision to let Frontier purchase Verizon's lines. Neither Frontier nor the West Va. PSC have responded or taken action on FiberNet's claims.

At this point, the majority of reported issues with the cutover from Verizon's systems are in West Virgina. The cutover of the Verizon lines in other states such as Oregon has met little, if any, issues.  

To be fair, the problems Frontier is encountering in West Virginia are the result of years of Verizon's neglect of the state's network infrastructure. In response, Frontier declared "emergency and long term service difficulty" in West Virginia, a provision in the union agreement it has with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union employees that allows them to impose a 70-hour workweek.

Of course, this overtime mandate is not sitting well with some union workers as reported in a Charleston Daily Mail article. An anonymous e-mailer wrote the Daily Mail to say that some employees are overstressed, including some older workers "who are having a very difficult time coping with 70-hour weeks, especially those who work outside in this unbearable heat." Frontier employees are willing to help the company succeed, but this is not the way to proceed," the e-mailer wrote. "It is alienating employees and showing a total lack of respect for their mental and physical well-being. Their family lives are suffering and the company doesn't seem to care at all."

What's interesting about the union workers' complaints about mandated overtime--for which they are paid--were the same union employees who protested Frontier's acquisition of Verizon's lines over fears they would lose their jobs and poor service.

For more:
- Charleston Daily Mail has this article

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