Reports: FairPoint, Unions Reach Tentative Agreement

FairPoint Communications (FRCMQ.PK), which is about to submit its bankruptcy reorganization plan to the courts, has reached a tentative contract agreement with about 3,000 New England union employees.

The parties have wrangled for months over pay and benefits changes as FairPoint tries to cut costs. The LEC was trying to convince International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) staff to take $30 million in concessions. Union officials had protested the amount as far too high.

But now the unions and FairPoint say they’ve reached a deal, although they’ve not disclosed the details. Union officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday there are new compensation packages, a one-year contract extension and requirements for better cooperation between labor and management. The news service also reported that the agreement defers a 2010 wage boost until the final year of the contract.

Union members are scheduled to vote on the proposal over the next week.

“Although FairPoint’s financial and operational problems had nothing to do with our wages or working conditions, once again we’ve gone the extra mile to help FairPoint get back on its feet,” Pete McLaughlin, business manager of IBEW Local 2327, told the AP.

FairPoint went bankrupt last October after succumbing to the burden of too much debt, and disastrous back-office and technical problems created by the Verizon landline takeover. Still, even before the bankruptcy, FairPoint was pressuring the unions to make concessions so the company could meet financial goals.


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