The striking workers of FairPoint Communications hope to bring some Christmas cheer today to the company’s top executive in Maine. A group of FairPoint workers will be caroling at the Winslow home of Mike Reed, state president for FairPoint in Maine.
“All we want for Christmas is a fair deal for New England,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of System Council T-9 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “We hope Mike Reed will feel the same Christmas spirit we do, but just in case we’ll also be bringing some lumps of coal.”
The FairPoint strike is now in its tenth week and Christmas Day will mark the 70th day of the strike. The FairPoint workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises, but the company has never modified its initial demand in negotiations for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.
Support for the workers has grown dramatically during the strike. Donations to the relief fund have now topped more than $200,000, and Christmas toy drives by the workers’ unions — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America — have received more than 2,500 presents from supporters across the country.
“The company thought they could steal our Christmas, but our many, many supporters in New England and across the country made sure that didn’t happen,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1400.
Support for the FairPoint strikers has been solidifying among the region’s elected leaders as well:
- Last Friday, Maine U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree wrote a powerful letter to FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu blasting the company's “unwillingness to compromise” and questioning its fitness to fulfill government contracts without its real workers on the job.
- On Monday, New Hampshire’s U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Ann Kuster sent a joint letter to FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu, saying, “Clearly, FairPoint’s impasse with its workers is having a negative impact on both the company and its customers.”
- And in mid-December, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and the state’s entirecongressional delegation sent letters to Sunu telling him to start bargaining in good faith.
The FairPoint workers have been on strike since October 17. They began negotiations for a new contract in April, and from the outset FairPoint executives pushed to slash benefits for current workers, impose deep pay cuts on new employees and promote the outsourcing of good jobs to poorly paid and unqualified contractors.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.