FairPoint and workers union exchange barbs over contract terms
|By Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News, Maine|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"That gives us more leverage in bargaining with that vote behind us," said
The vote would allow union leaders to authorize a strike if they cannot negotiate a deal the union seeks on the use of outside contractors.
"Though we hope a strike is unnecessary, this vote is the first step toward a work stoppage, should the company continue to put profits over quality work from quality employees," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin said in a telephone interview that the main disagreement stems from how much latitude
A company representative said much of a union statement issued Tuesday "is shocking and simply not true."
Beaudry said the new proposal would freeze its existing defined benefit plan contributions for union workers and includes a benefits package that is "substantially similar" to what the rest of the company's workers have, including medical coverage, life insurance, disability, a 401K retirement plan and other benefits.
She said the company's stance on hiring contract workers addresses a need for flexibility in hiring experts and outside vendors "as technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace."
"Our proposals address the need for flexibility when it comes to meeting the communication requirements of our current and future customers," she wrote.
McLaughlin said the issue of hiring outside contractors is the primary impasse for the
"The rest of the stuff is all fluff if you don't have work," McLaughlin said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The current contract requires consultation with the union for hiring outside workers, a process that was the subject of a long legal battle that the union won in a 2013 federal appeals court ruling finding the company wrongfully transferred union jobs to contractors in
He said contractors can't be relied upon to provide the same quality of service as full-time employees and that corporate officials have not provided the union with specific details on how much that proposal stands to save.
Since April, McLaughlin said the company and union have remained far apart, primarily on the issue of using contract workers, but he expects weeks leading up to
Beaudry agreed, saying the union would not strike before the contract expires
McLaughlin said that though the company and union remain far apart, everyone has been at the negotiating table throughout the process.
"We know the issues that we have to tackle and we're working toward a resolution," he said.
Beaudry criticized the union's participation up to this point, saying the company made 65 proposals to the union when negotiations began
"If the Unions are not prepared to tackle the critical issues at stake in these negotiations, and simply seek to maintain the unacceptable status quo, it is time for them to at least be honest about it," Beaudry wrote. "
The first strike authorization vote is scheduled for Friday evening in
McLaughlin told the
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