CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV)-- After ten months of negotiations, members of the Communications Workers of America have not been able to reach agreement on a fair contract with Frontier Communications. As a result, 1,400 Frontier Communications workers in West Virginia and in Ashburn, VA went on strike at 12:01 am on Sunday, March 4.
"We have been very clear throughout the bargaining process that our top priority is keeping good jobs in our communities," said Ed Mooney, Vice President of CWA District 2-13. "Going on strike is never easy. It's a hardship for our members and the customers who we are proud to serve. But the job cuts at Frontier have gone too far — we know it and Frontier's customers know it. It's time for Frontier to start investing in maintaining and rebuilding its network in West Virginia."
An analysis of informal complaints filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission shows that complaints have increased steadily over the past three years, rising 69% from 639 complaints in 2014 to 1,072 complaints in 2017. Since Frontier acquired Verizon's landlines in West Virginia in 2010, the company has cut over 500 good, middle-class jobs in the state.
"We're taking a stand," said Johnny Bailey, President of CWA Local 2226 in Bluefield, WV. "Customers are waiting way too long to have their problems resolved, and too often we're back fixing the same problems over and over again. Frontier is leaving West Virginia behind. The network has been neglected and there are just not enough experienced, well-trained workers left to handle the service requests."
Members of the Communications Workers of America have been negotiating with Frontier since last May. The contract was originally set to expire on August 5, 2017, was extended until November 4, and then extended again until March 3.
In a statement released early Sunday morning, Frontier said it would continue to offer “quality customer service” to its West Virginia customers during the work stoppage. The company said it was working toward a fair contract for all.
“We want our customers to know they are our top priority,” said Greg Stephens, Senior Vice-President, Midwest Region, Frontier Communications said in a statement. “Frontier is proud to be one of the top employers in the state, average annual wages for union employees exceed $64,500, and more than half of all union employees earn more than $75,000 per year. Including employee benefits, the Company’s average employee cost per CWA member is more than $100,000. We would like to continue to engage in constructive contract negotiations with CWA and resolve this matter quickly.”
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents 700,000 working men and women in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, public service and manufacturing.