Frontier Communications has obtained a temporary restraining order against striking workers in West Virginia, barring them from picketing in large numbers, using violence and interfering with business.
The Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia, granted Frontier’s request for the order. It’s in effect in Kanawha County until the evening of March 19.
Some 1,400 workers are on strike in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia. They are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Their contract originally was set to expire on Aug. 5, 2017, was extended until Nov. 4, and then extended again to March 3.
The strike began March 4.
Ed Mooney, vice president of CWA District 2-13, said the request for the injunction was an “overreaction by the company to the lawful activity of our striking members.”
“Frontier’s No. 1 priority is the safety and security of our customers in West Virginia, and the employees and contractors who are serving them during the current strike by the (CWA),” said Andy Malinoski, Frontier’s communications manager. “Frontier petitioned the court for injunctive relief because of dangerous, destructive and reckless behavior that some members of the CWA have engaged in since the inception of the work stoppage. We strongly disagree that Frontier’s response is an ‘overreaction.’ Our customers, employees and contractors have a right to work and co-exist in a safe and secure environment.”
Among the restrictions, the order bars striking workers from: interfering with the business activities of Frontier and individuals associated with the company “by threatening, obstructing, intimidating or harassing them”; and picketing, “other than peacefully, and by no more than six picketers at least 15 feet from any entrance to Frontier’s property or premises or at any worksite of any Frontier employee or contractor performing Frontier work.”
“The company’s action comes in the face of the tremendous support that residents and business owners across West Virginia have shown for the strike, and shows that the company is worried because that support has spread to Connecticut, where Frontier workers have set up informational pickets at work locations and at Frontier’s headquarters,” Mooney said. “We are strong, we are united, and we are committed to the fight for good jobs and quality service in West Virginia.”
Frontier says the offer the workers turned down included: wage increases of more than $14 million; health-care benefits of more than $21,000 per employee and per year; the continuation of a profit-sharing bonus for every CWA employee; and the withdrawal of pending layoff notices. Average annual wages for the company’s union employees exceed $64,500, and more than half of all union employees earn more than $75,000 per year, it said.