SHAHEEN, KUSTER URGE RESOLUTION OF FAIRPOINT LABOR DISPUTE

In letter to FairPoint Communications, Shaheen and Kuster call on company to return to negotiating table

December 22, 2014

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) in a letter today called on FairPoint Communications Chief Executive Officer Paul Sunu and the FairPoint Communications management team to return to the bargaining table and resolve the ongoing labor disagreement that has led to 2000 FairPoint employees striking across New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. The strike that began October 17 has led to disrupted service for customers throughout the region, including for police departments, fire departments, health care providers and schools, jeopardizing emergency communications and critical public safety services. 

“With the onset of winter weather increasing the potential for further damage to FairPoint’s network, we strongly urge you to return to the negotiating table and finalize a new contract,” Shaheen and Kuster wrote. “Reaching a new contract agreement with the striking workers will enable experienced, dedicated FairPoint personnel to return to their jobs and begin the critical task of repairing the telecommunications infrastructure that is vital to public safety in New Hampshire.” 

Since the strike started more than two months ago, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission has received nearly 500 complaints from customers in New Hampshire reporting service issues.

The full text of Shaheen and Kuster's letter is included below:

December 22, 2014

Paul H. Sunu

Chief Executive Officer

FairPoint Communications

521 E Morehead Street, Suite 500

Charlotte, NC 28202

Dear Mr. Sunu:

We write to encourage you and your management team to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a reasonable compromise with FairPoint workers in northern New England that will bring an end to their two-month long strike.

Since FairPoint workers went on strike on October 17, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission has received nearly 500 complaints from FairPoint customers around the state about service outages, lack of information and unduly long waits for repairs.  Clearly, FairPoint’s impasse with its workers is having a negative impact on both the company and its customers.  In fact, problems with FairPoint’s network since the strike began have not only affected residential customers, but have also caused service outages for police departments, fire departments, health care providers and schools throughout the state, jeopardizing emergency communications and critical public safety services. 

With the onset of winter weather increasing the potential for further damage to FairPoint’s network, we strongly urge you to return to the negotiating table and finalize a new contract.  Reaching a new contract agreement with the striking workers will enable experienced, dedicated FairPoint personnel to return to their jobs and begin the critical task of repairing the telecommunications infrastructure that is vital to public safety in New Hampshire. 

When FairPoint took over Verizon’s New Hampshire network in 2008, the company made repeated, public commitments to work collaboratively with its unionized workforce and to maintain their benefits and compensation.  We urge you to continue to uphold these commitments, to resume contract negotiations, and to reach a fair agreement that ends this strike and enables FairPoint’s employees to resume earning good wages and providing quality service to customers in New Hampshire.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senator

Ann McLane Kuster

Member of Congress