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Northern New England communication workers authorize strike

July 14, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Union members with a phone and internet company in northern New England said Wednesday they have authorized a potential strike.

The contracts of more than 1,000 union employees of Consolidated Communications in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont expire on Aug. 7. Representatives for Communications Workers of America said an “overwhelming majority” of union members voted to authorize the strike.

The union said it is concerned about the company’s desire to use outside contractors and move work outside of the northern New England area. It said it would be a burden for residents of northern New England if the company hires out-of-state workers to maintain communication networks.

The company is negotiating in good faith with the unions, said Ryan Whitlock, Consolidated’s senior vice president of operations, in a statement to the Portland Press Herald.

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“We are committed to continuing this track record and are hopeful to negotiate contracts that allow us to continue to provide better service to our customers, benefits to our employees and ensure we are operating a sustainable and competitive fiber broadband company,” Whitlock said.

In 2015 unionized workers for Consolidated Communications in northern New England went on strike for 131 days before reaching an agreement. In 2018 the union authorized a strike, but it reached a deal with the company hours before a strike was set to begin.