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Federal Mediators To Get Involved With FairPoint Dispute

Federal officials confirmed Friday they will be meeting with FairPoint Communications and labor unions to resolve a lengthy dispute.

FairPoint, which provides communications services to businesses and private consumers in 17 states, has been at odds with the unions over demands they are making for the new contract. The company and both the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) meet with the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in the hopes of resolving their differences.

“In response to a request from the FMCS, representatives of IBEW, CWA and FairPoint Communications Inc. will meet under FMCS auspices in Washington, D.C.  FMCS has assigned a team of experienced mediators to assist the parties in reaching mutually acceptable agreements to resolve the work stoppage begun on October 17, 2014,” Allison Beck, acting director of the FMCS, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for FairPoint told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “We can confirm that the FMCS has scheduled a meeting, which reflects the normal process followed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services in all labor disputes.”

“As confirmed by the NLRB Region 1 ruling on Dec. 29, our proposals are lawfully in place,” the spokeswoman explained. “FairPoint remains willing to listen to reasonable union proposals that ensure the Company’s ability to compete.”

“We hope the unions are prepared to make such proposals. The ball is in the unions’ court,” the spokeswoman concluded.

FairPoint argued in December that many of the demands the unions have been making go way too far and will jeopardize their business. These demands included wage increases beyond the current $82,500 per year average, fully paid post-retirement medical benefits, unlimited paid sick time and an end to meaningful employee contributions toward health care premium costs.

Recently, the unions accused FairPoint of acting in bad faith during union negotiations. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) however ruled in favor of FairPoint, noting there was not enough evidence to support the unions’ claim.

“Based on that investigation, I have decided to dismiss your charge because there is insufficient evidence to establish a violation of the Act,”  the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) told the unions in a letter obtained by TheDCNF.

The CWA and the IBEW could not be reached for comment.

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