PORTLAND (AP) — FairPoint Communications and more than 1,700 striking workers reached the 100-day milestone on Saturday with workers marking the occasion with events across the region and expressing hope that the two sides will soon reach an agreement.

Striking workers said they’re hopeful because mediated negotiations have continued for three weeks without breaking down. On Friday, a federal mediator said negotiations have made progress.

“I have no insight on the talks that are happening now because of the gag order but they’re still in negotiations, so I’m hopeful that there’ll be a compromise,” striking worker Krista Jensen of Westbrook said.

Workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communication Workers of America gathered outside the company’s regional headquarters in the snow on Saturday to mark the 100th day of a strike that began in the fall. In Manchester, New Hampshire, a rolling rally was cut short by snow.

The company and most workers didn’t expect the strike to last this long.

FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont went on strike on Oct. 17 after the company began imposing terms of its “final offer” after declaring an impasse nearly two months earlier.


The company froze the old pension and replaced it with 401(k) plans. It also required workers to contribute to health care costs for the first time, eliminated retiree health care benefits and lowered wages for newly hired workers. Worst of all, many workers say, FairPoint gave itself the right to hire outside contractors.

Workers know that their old contract with provisions dating to the time when they worked for Verizon had fallen out of sync with industry norms. But Jeff Dorn, a FairPoint repair worker, said the company tried to go too far.

“Unions have demonstrated that they’re willing to make cuts when they’re due,” Dorn said before the event Saturday in Portland. “But now corporations are trying to make unnecessary cuts. Every once in a while unions have to stand up to them.”

The company had no comment.

North Carolina-based FairPoint has struggled since buying Verizon’s landline holdings in northern New England for $2.3 billion in 2007. Eighteen months after the deal closed, the company filed for bankruptcy after losing customers because of operational and integration problems. It has continued to struggle since emerging from bankruptcy in 2011.

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