Consolidated Communications workers in northern New England authorize strike

·2 min read

Jul. 14—Union workers at legacy phone and internet company Consolidated Communications in Maine and neighboring New England states say they have authorized a potential strike.

Union representatives said Wednesday in a news release that the labor contracts of more than 1,000 workers in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire expire Aug. 7, and that negotiations over new contracts have been underway since March with no resolution in sight.

While there are no immediate plans for a work stoppage, representatives of the Communications Workers of America Local 1400 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 2320, 2326 and 2327 voted by an "overwhelming majority" to authorize a strike if necessary, according to the release.

"No one here wants a strike — our members want nothing more than to provide the service our customers deserve," said IBEW T-9 Chairman Pete McLaughlin in a statement. "We will continue to bargain in good faith and are only asking that (Consolidated) lives up to the commitments it made to us three years ago. If they won't work with us to reach a mutually agreeable contract, we may be left with no other option."

The major sticking points between management and labor are the company's insistence on being able to use outside contractors to perform bargained-for work, and the continuation of company efforts to transfer work outside of northern New England, the union reps said.

"CWA and IBEW are in lockstep with each other to continue to fight for good-paying jobs, and to maintain those jobs in northern New England," said CWA Local 1400 President Don Trementozzi in a statement.

Ryan Whitlock, Consolidated senior vice president of operations, said in a statement that the company is negotiating in good faith with the unions, and that as a critical infrastructure provider, it always plans "for a variety of contingencies to minimize any potential service disruptions."

"Consolidated has a long history of positive and respectful labor relations," Whitlock said. "We are committed to continuing this track record and are hopeful to negotiate contracts that allow us to continue to provide better service to our customers, benefits to our employees and ensure we are operating a sustainable and competitive fiber broadband company."

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