Frontier workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union have gone on strike after not being able to reach what they say is a fair agreement with the telco.
The strike of 1,400 Frontier workers came after the current CWA union contract expired on 12:01 on Sunday, in West Virginia and in Ashburn.
CWA members have been negotiating with Frontier since last May. The contract was originally set to expire on August 5, 2017, but was extended until November 4, and then extended again until March 3.
CWA said what drove the workers to strike were concerns about layoffs and using contractors. As a result, CWA said these moves by the Stamford, Conn.-based telco has resulted in job loss and reduced service quality.
"Going on strike is never easy. It's a hardship for our members and the customers who we are proud to serve,” said Ed Mooney, VP of CWA district 2-13, in a release. But the job cuts at Frontier have gone too far—we know it and Frontier's customers know it. It's time for Frontier to start investing in maintaining and rebuilding its network in West Virginia."
According to an analysis of informal complaints filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission, complaints have rose 69% from 639 complaints in 2014 to 1,072 complaints in 2017. Since Frontier acquired Verizon's landlines in West Virginia—one of its largest operating states—in 2010, the telco has cut over 500 employees in the state.
For its part, Frontier said it will work with CWA to find common ground in garnering a new contract agreement and that its union wages are competitive.
"Frontier is proud to be one of the top employers in the state, average annual wages for union employees exceed $64,500, and more than half of all union employees earn more than $75,000 per year,” said Greg Stephens, SVP of midwest region for Frontier Communications in a statement. “Including employee benefits, the Company’s average employee cost per CWA member is more than $100,000. We would like to continue to engage in constructive contract negotiations with CWA and resolve this matter quickly.”
Before completing its acquisition of Verizon’s assets in Texas, California and Florida, Frontier reached a key labor agreement with the CWA District 6, covering workers in Texas and Missouri in 2015.