Negotiations between FairPoint and the two unions representing more than 1,700 employees have been placed under a gag order by a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation service. With the talks between the employer on one side and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on the other now taking place in secret, FairPoint’s employees are at a loss as to any progress potentially being made.
As we have reported here previously, FairPoint’s employees have been on strike since October 2014, when the company declared an impasse at the bargaining table and instituted its best and final offer, which replaced the employee pension plan with a 401(k). The company’s best and final offer also now requires employees to contribute more to their health benefits plan.
Talks between the parties are set to continue in Washington, D.C. In the interim, the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed the unions’ charge that FairPoint bargained with the unions in bad faith. An appeal of that dismissal is pending.