CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Frontier Communications and the Communication Workers of America have announced a fourth contract extension but this time only for 20 days.
The announcement came Friday afternoon just ahead of Saturday night’s deadline of the third extension. The previous three extensions have stretched for three months or more. The new deadline is April 25.
“We felt an extension was appropriate for both our members and the company,” CWA International Representative Elaine Harris said in a release from the union. “The extension alleviates some of the pressure on negotiations which allows us to continue to focus and negotiate diligently on the issues important to our members.”
Frontier East Region Area President Ken Arndt said the company believes a deal can be reached.
“With additional time, we are optimistic we can find all of the common ground needed to reach a new agreement,” Arndt said. “Frontier has negotiated in good faith to seek a balanced contract that treats employees fairly, allows the company to provide the highest levels of customer service West Virginians deserve and gives the company the flexibility necessary to succeed in the intensely competitive communications industry.”
Frontier workers held an informational picket outside Frontier headquarters in Charleston Friday morning. They wore camouflage and carried signs calling for a fair contract.
Margo Cain is a CWA member. She brought her young son with her to the picket. He’s a big reason why she’s so determined to make sure the union workers get a fair shake.
“I have two small children who have different medical issues that our insurance helps provide the care that they deserve,” she stressed. “Frontier trying to cut our benefits and cut our pay seriously hurts our family!”
The old contract ran out last August. Cain said the union membership is prepared to walk off the job.
“[We want to] let them know that we are together. We’re not backing down. We will wait one more day than them. We will get a fair contract,” stressed Cain.
Both sides agreed to a third contract extension back in January but the water crisis slowed down talks for several days.
The contract covers approximately 1,600 Frontier workers who are CWA members.