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Unionized Consolidated Communications Workers Authorize Strike

Unionized Consolidated Communications workers in northern New England have authorized their leaders to call a strike if ongoing contract negotiations with the company don’t succeed.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America say they represent more than 1,000 workers in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The unions’ contract expires Aug. 4.

According to a statement from the unions, outsourcing work to non-union subcontractors is the key issue.

“Management continues to insist on outsourcing work, and we strongly believe that will hurt consumers and the hard-working employees who support, build, and maintain Northern New England’s critical telecommunications infrastructure,” said Peter McLaughlin, the bargaining team's co-chair, in that statement.

A statement from Ryan Whitlock, vice president of human resources at Consolidated Communications, said the company is willing to agree that any subcontracted work will not result in union layoffs, and has offered to hire union workers to oversee sub-contractors.

“We are hopeful to negotiate contracts that will allow us to more effectively and efficiently serve our customers, benefit our employees and ensure we are a sustainable and competitive Company,” the statement said. 

Consolidated Communications is based in Illinois and operates in 24 states. 

In 2017, Consolidated purchased FairPoint Communications and took over its northern New England landline, internet and telecommunications business.

Unionized FairPoint workers staged a four-month strike beginning in late 2014 after the company unilaterally imposed new contract terms. Ultimately the unions agreed to a contract that reduced benefits for current employees and retirees.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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