NLRB rejects union challenges to FairPoint's contract proposals

FairPoint Communications won a small victory in its ongoing fight with its union workers in northern New England as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has rejected the unions' accusations that the service provider is bargaining in "bad faith."

NLRB informed FairPoint that each of the six bad faith bargaining charges filed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) covering about 1,700 employees in northern New England had been rejected.

In October, FairPoint workers represented by the northern New England chapters of the IBEW and CWA went on strike after negotiations with the service provider broke down.

At that time, the workers chose to strike two days after FairPoint froze workers' pensions in favor of 401(k) plans going forward and imposed a contract that requires workers to contribute to health care costs; other provisions would allow the company to hire contractors and eliminate retiree healthcare benefits.

These latest dismissals come after a nearly five-month investigation into both FairPoint and the unions' conduct and the NLRB Region 1's conclusion "that there was no basis to the allegations that FairPoint bargained in bad faith or that its implementation of its final contract proposals was unlawful."

FairPoint said in a statement that it would provide additional comments when the NLRB ruling is officially issued.

Leaders of CWA and IBEW said they will appeal the NLRB regional director's decision to the general counsel of the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

The CWA and IBEW said in separate statements that they will continue with their strike until they can reach a resolution with the company. 

"While disappointing, the NLRB's decision is not surprising," said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the unions' bargaining committee and business manager of IBEW Local 2327. "Unfortunately, US labor law favors corporations like FairPoint, not working people. The NLRB is one tool in our toolbox—the NLRB does not decide what's best for our workers and our communities. We remain united and committed in our fight for fairness at FairPoint."
"Our decision to strike on October 17th was not based on the NLRB and today's announcement does not change our commitment to our jobs, our communities, and each other," said Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400. "The pressure on FairPoint is mounting and their contingency plan is failing. We know it, they know it, their shareholders know it, and our customers know it. We remain committed to our struggle for fair treatment from FairPoint and good service for our communities and our customers in New England."  

It has not been an easy ride for FairPoint since the strike began.

Since the strike started in October, the telco has suffered a series of attacks of vandalism on its network facilities and there has been a spike in service outages and slower service response times.

A rise in service issues in New Hampshire prompted state officials to delay making a decision on a pending $13 million voice and data services contract.

For more:
- see FairPoint's statement
- see the unions' response

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