Business Manager Tony Sapienza
Portland Holiday FunkFest for FairPoint Strikers on December 22
December 12, 2014 — A lineup of some of Portland’s most prominent musicians is holding a “Holiday FunkFest for FairPoint Strikers” on Monday, December 22, at Empire music hall. The evening will be headlined by the eight-piece band Model Airplane. Adam Waxman and Joe Farrell and special guest Kenya Hall will also perform.
The announcement of the benefit concert at Empire marks the latest surge in public support for the FairPoint strikers. Since the strike began on October 17, the workers’ relief fund has received nearly $150,000 in donations.
“The community support we’ve received has been amazing,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the bargaining committee of the nearly 2,000 union workers at FairPoint. “People aren’t just writing us checks, they’re walking our picket lines, they’re coming to our rallies, and now they’re literally singing our song. We can’t thank these musicians enough — and the people all across Maine — who are standing with us to win a Fair Deal for New England.”
The FairPoint strikers have received substantial gifts of food and other items in addition to the nearly $150,000 given to the strike fund. Highlights of the support effort include hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys and food baskets distributed to strikers by the nonprofit Food AND Medicine; tens of thousands of dollars in grocery store gift cards given out by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and a drive to collect thousands of Christmas presents for strikers’ children by the Communications Workers of America.
“This outpouring of support has allowed our strikers to remain incredibly strong,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1400. “And thanks to the generosity of the artists behind this concert and so many others, we can tell FairPoint executives that we’ll fight one day longer, one day stronger.”
The FairPoint workers began negotiations for a new contract in April. From the outset, the company pressed for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts. The workers made compromise offers with more than $200 million in cost savings, but the company refused to modify its initial demand for cuts.
In August, the company walked away from bargaining and imposed the terms and conditions of its offer. Those terms slash benefits for current workers, impose deep pay cuts on new employees, and promote the outsourcing of good jobs to poorly paid and unqualified contractors.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.