On the picket lines

Frontier Communications workers are on the picket lines today in Princeton and Bluefield striking over several issues, with the main one being the outsourcing of jobs.

BLUEFIELD — Another strike is under way locally and across the state.

Frontier Communications workers are on the picket lines today in Princeton and Bluefield striking over several issues, with the main one being the outsourcing of jobs.

Phil Nelson of Athens was on a picket line on Stafford Drive in Princeton.

“The main issue is they are trying to outsource our jobs,” he said. 

Nelson said those jobs are primarily in call centers.

Johnny Bailey, a 40-year employee of the company and president of the local chapter of the CWA (Communications Workers of America), was in Bluefield at Chicory Square with other strikers and said another problem is the cutting back on staff in other areas resulting in a drop in the quality of service.

“They are not spending the money to provide quality products and services,” he said, adding that manpower has been reduced to the point it’s difficult to keep up with service demands.

Bailey said negotiations with the company have been ongoing since May 2017 but the contract ended this Saturday at midnight.

"We are ready to continue those negotiations," he said.

Frontier has about 1,400 employees in the state.

According to a statement released by the CWA, 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 percent 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,” the statement said.

According to businesswire.com, Frontier released the following statement related to the strike.

“Our objective in these negotiations has been to preserve good jobs with competitive wages and excellent benefits, while addressing the needs of our ever-changing business,” said Chris Levendos, Executive Vice President, Field Operations. “All of our contract proposals have included the continuation of generous wages and benefits. We would like to continue to engage in constructive contract negotiations with CWA and resolve this matter quickly.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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