NH1 News Debates


Dec 19, 2014 4:24 PM

Kevin Landrigan: Fairpoint strike, workers dig in for long haul stalemate


CONCORD - This was Fairpoint Union Business Manager Glenn Brackett's opinion of CEO John Sunu at today's rally where more than 200 striking workers braved 15 degree wind chill outside the State House.

"If I say Sunu, you say,'' Brackett yelled.

The crowd shouted back, "Liar.''

Brackett repeated, "If I say Sunu, you say.''

"Liar,'' they cried.

Brackett closed with, "You've got that right.''

With the strike in its third month, NH1 investigated the impasse that has three major sticking points - making workers pay for health care, freezing their pension while eliminating coverage for retirees.
Many workers are also upset with the company's plan to make use of more contract workers to do jobs in the past reserved for union employees.

Sammy Johnson of Keene said workers crying uncle first is not going to happen.

"Really, the options, there is no option other than to fight for what you think is right,'' Johnson said.

By any measure, Fairpoint employees have an enviable contract, wages twice the New England average, unlimited sick days, no contribution to health care or pension.

Union boss Brackett says they've offered givebacks.

"When we went to the bargaining table, we understood the economic impact of Fairpoint and the industry. We offered over $200 million of concession,'' Brackett said.

National Labor Relations Board's Boston office spokeswoman Kathleen McCarthy said the agency is still investigating union complaints that the company refused to bargain in good faith.

John Murphy, a 28-year Fairpoint employees being on strike around the holidays is stressful.

"With an eight year old, it's a tough situation for all of us but we stick together, we are in it for the long haul, we lean on each other,'' Murphy added.

These striking Fairpoint are in this for the long haul, well through the holidays and beyond as the two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart.

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