As the strike by workers at FairPoint Communications heads into its tenth week, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) will visit the home of the company’s Maine President, Mike Reed, today to spread some Christmas cheer (or possibly deliver some lumps of coal).
The workers announced in a press release yesterday that they will be singing outside Reed’s home in Winslow this afternoon in order to bring attention to their demands that FairPoint return to the bargaining table.
“All we want for Christmas is a fair deal for New England,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of IBEW System Council T-9. “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 strike began in October when contract negotiations hit an impasse. Workers offered $200 million in concessions, while FairPoint executives demanded $700 in cuts and the discretion to outsource work and hire non-union workers, possibly eliminating jobs in Maine and New England.
The five largest shareholders in the company are Wall Street hedge funds, with the largest stake held by Angelo, Gordon & Co.
Customer complaints of poor service and long outages have increased since the strike began, but FairPoint won’t face any legal repercussions for the poor service. Despite the company’s monopoly position in many parts of the state and rates guaranteed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Maine law no longer levies automatic fines for high volumes of complaints.