Consolidated, unions reach tentative agreements on contracts – News –

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Consolidated Communications and unions representing about 1,000 employees in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont reached tentative agreements on new contracts late Saturday, averting a possible strike.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America approved a strike however the labor settlement got here earlier than the outdated contract expired at midnight Saturday.

Details of the three-yr agreements weren’t instantly accessible however union officers mentioned in an announcement they shield jobs, preserve inexpensive well being care, and supply enhanced retirement advantages. The agreements responded to the wants of employees and clients whereas additionally addressing quick-paced adjustments within the telecommunications trade, they mentioned.

“We promised we were going to try to get the best possible agreement for members. We achieved our goals,” mentioned Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400 and co-chairman of the unions’ negotiating crew. “I don’t think it’s in the best interest of either party to have a strike. The telecom industry is very competitive these days,” he added.

Union employees within the three states will maintain conferences within the coming days to debate and vote on the agreements.

These had been the primary negotiations since a 4-month strike preceded an settlement with FairPoint Communications. Illinois-based Consolidated bought FairPoint final yr. Consolidated Communications offers phone and broadband web in northern New England. It additionally operates in 21 different states.

Bob Udell, Consolidated president and CEO, mentioned in an announcement that he was happy with the end result. “Since our acquisition of FairPoint a year ago, we have seen a notable improvement in the relationship between the Unions and the Company, and this agreement reflects that progress,” he mentioned.

Workers had been out for 131 days after strolling off the job in October 2014. During that strike, there have been extensively documented stories of customer support issues together with lengthy phone name waits and delayed service calls. Consolidated Communications mentioned it was negotiating in good religion however had a strike contingency plan involving a whole bunch of educated managers filling in for union employees.

Union employees had been particularly involved in regards to the firm’s proposal to make higher use of subcontractors. The firm contended it wants flexibility relating to hiring subcontractors to expedite restore, upkeep and installations, and that no employees shall be laid off consequently.

The final strike started after North Carolina-based FairPoint froze pensions, imposed pay reductions on new employees, eradicated retiree medical health insurance and allowed the corporate to rent extra exterior employees. The settlement that ended the strike allowed workers to maintain their outlined profit pension plans however there have been concessions on firm contributions, well being care prices and different points.

Consolidated finally purchased FairPoint, doubling its fiber optic community and creating an organization with operations in 24 states. The $1.three billion transaction was accomplished final July.

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