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August 6, 2018

Strike averted as Consolidated reaches tentative agreement with unions

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. and its 1,200 union-represented workers in northern New England came to a tentative contract agreement Friday night shortly before a midnight deadline.

Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. and its 1,200 union-represented workers in northern New England came to a tentative contract agreement Friday night shortly before a midnight deadline.

Workers in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire — about 980 in Maine — represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communication Workers of America, had authorized a strike if no agreement was reached when their three-year contract expired Saturday.

The unions will schedule ratification meetings in the coming days, where members may vote to ratify the tentative agreements, the union leaders said in a joint news release.

The three-year contracts would expire Aug. 7, 2021. Union leaders said that there are some differences in contracts between the two unions, but they "maintain high quality affordable health care, provide enhanced retirement benefits through a new 401K savings plan, and protect local jobs for the life of the agreements."

"After four months of often contentious bargaining, union negotiators said they had reached agreements that responded to their members' and customers' needs as well as the profound changes impacting the telecommunications industry," the unions said.

The company, in its news release, said it is "pleased with this outcome and are optimistic our employees will ratify these new labor agreements."

Bob Udell, president and chief executive officer at Consolidated Communications, said, "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."

Workers are represented by IBEW locals 2320, 2326 and 2327 and CWA Local 1400.

Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL), with headquarters in Mattoon Illinois, provides broadband and telephone service for residential and commercial customers in 23 states.

The company has about 500,00 residential and business customers in Northern New England. It bought Fairpoint Communications last year in an all-stock transaction valued at $1.3 billion. It said in January it was rebranding and embarking on the three-year $17.4 million a year facilities and infrastructure upgrade in Maine, which was approved by the state Public Utilities Commission in June 2017.

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