MANCHESTER — Members of two unions held a joint meeting Sunday before voting whether to authorize a strike against FairPoint Communications with less than three weeks remaining before their current contract expires.
The workers at the Radisson Hotel ballroom joined as many as 2,000 FairPoint employees in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine to cast ballots that could lead to a strike after months of unsuccessful contract negotiations.
Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320 and Communications Workers of America Local 1400 met for about half an hour Sunday before placing their votes in separate ballot boxes, one for each of the unions.
“FairPoint management has to know we’re serious — and we are,” said Glenn Brackett, business manager of IBEW Local 2320.
Brackett said results will be released once all New Hampshire workers get a chance to vote. He estimated about 200 workers were still out on calls Sunday repairing damage from heavy storms last weekend.
“We’re going to make sure everyone in New Hampshire gets a vote,” Brackett said.
Brackett said the preliminary count from Sunday’s meeting in Manchester was more than 200.Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400, headquartered in Portsmouth, said he represents workers in all three states, including FairPoint call centers in New Hampshire. He said the CWA results would also not be released until later this month when both unions have a final tally.
If the final count is in favor of authorizing a strike, union leaders would still have the option on whether to call for a work stoppage. The current contracts expire Aug. 2.
FairPoint communications director Angelynne Amores Beaudry noted Sunday that the vote is only whether workers will authorize a possible strike.
“We are working hard and negotiating in good faith,” Beaudry said. Beaudry said FairPoint is prepared to ensure customer service will continue if there is a strike.