Fairpoint workers held a demonstration in Longfellow Square to protest what they consider to be union-busting tactics by the communications corporation. The workers were joined by members of other unions, who were gathered down the road at the Irish Heritage Center (State Street) celebrating Labor Day breakfast.
Fairpoint Communications claims they have reached an impasse in negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA), who represent nearly 2000 workers or about two-thirds of Fairpoint’s workforce.
Fairpoint has struggled to operate the Northern New England landline operations it purchased from Verizon seven years ago. They state the need to reduce health care, labor and pension costs.
The company declared that they are at an impasse, and used this legal maneuver to impose a contract that has not received union approval. In response to the imposed terms, CWA and IBEW released an open letter to their members stating, “We are outraged. We are disgusted. And, we are fighting back.”
The unions say they want a fair contract, and are willing to continue negotiations.
Speakers at the event were Chellie Pingree, Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, National AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, and former West End News contributor and long-time labor activist Harlan Baker.
The event was crashed by Michael Anthony, a self-described “agitator” from 15 Now, an organization fighting for a $15 minimum wage in Portland. Mr. Anthony shouted that unions should join the fight for a higher minimum wage, and solo chanted “$15 Now. We need a living wage.” Several union members worked to isolate Mr. Anthony from the rest of the demonstration.