|By Pat Grossmith, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
For months, the
The workers' contract expired on
The issues, according to O'Connor, is that the telecommunications company wants to gut health care insurance, eliminate the pension plan, eliminate health care coverage for retirees and outsource work, meaning good-paying jobs could be leaving
"Our main goal in these negotiations is to bring the contract into the norms of the 21st century and reflect the competitive reality of today's telecom marketplace versus the monopoly environment of days gone by," she said in an e-mail.
She said without change, "the landline telephone company of the past cannot be the successful 21st century telecommunications company of the future."
She pointed out that unionized employees -- current and retired -- have 100 percent health-care coverage; unlimited paid sick days and company-paid retirement plan and
The company is proposing workers pay between
That change in healthcare, according to union officials, would cost a family
The company had a net loss of
O'Connor said employees decided to walk an informational picket line to call the public's attention to their situation.
"We are your neighbors. We are the people coaching children's sports. We are the people who are CASA volunteers. We're involved in Scouting," he said. "And it is our work we do at a very high level that maintains the
All the employees want, O'Connor said, is a fair and equitable contract, so "that we can continue to supply excellent service."
On its FairnessAtFairPoint.com website, the union said the picketing is needed to send a strong message to management that "we are unified and ready to stand up and fight back against corporate greed."
Two managers at the
The managers declined comment, referring a reporter to
The unionized workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, although that does not mean it will happen.
If the unions choose to strike, Beaudry says
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