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July 20. 2014 8:23PM

Union officials say FairPoint strike could be looming

Union officials representing about 2,000 FairPoint Communications employees in New Hampshire and two neighboring states say early vote totals indicate membership is overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike with less than two weeks remaining on their current contracts.

Union members in Maine and Vermont have already cast their votes, but the ballot period was extended in New Hampshire because of ongoing cleanup from a series of severe storms that have hit the Granite State this month.

Glenn Brackett, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320, said Sunday that three meetings are scheduled in the next week, then the votes will be counted and results released on July 28.

“Due to the recent rash of storms, FairPoint union technicians have been working day and night to repair the damage to the network,” Brackett said. “Restoring service to customers shouldn’t cost a worker the opportunity to vote for their future.”

Brackett said IBEW and Communications Workers of America Local 1400 plan to announce the results at the same time once the voting is completed.

“We have had huge turnouts at every meeting,” Brackett said.

If the final count is in favor of authorizing a strike, union leaders would have the option on whether to call for a work stoppage. The current contracts expire Aug. 2.

“We are at the bargaining table,” Brackett said. “The union will continue to bargain in good faith and hoping to find an equitable resolution. We’ll stay at the table as long as necessary.”

Angelynne Amores Beaudry, communications director for FairPoint, said Sunday the company is prepared for the final vote and that it will not affect the ongoing negotiations.

“It’s no surprise about the strike authorization vote. This is a union procedure,” she said. “It’s important to note that the unions are obligated under the current collective bargaining agreements not to strike before the contracts expire on Aug. 2.”

dalden@unionleader.com



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