A little over a year after its bankruptcy, Frontier is increasingly outsourcing good union jobs to unregulated subcontractors, threatening public safety;
Members of Communications Workers of America across California receive approval from Frontier after striking over the issue
nationwide — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has launched a half-million dollar advertising campaign exposing Frontier Communications’ increasing and dangerous use of subcontractors for critical broadband infrastructure work. Frontier management’s aggressive attempt to oust its union employees and squeeze out good union jobs following the company’s April 2021 bankruptcy is causing damage to communities amid botched rollouts.
Check out the ads:
“Rather than using its clean slate to create more high-paying jobs with health care and retirement plans, Frontier is taking its second chance to part with its employees,” Frontier said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District 1, which represents approximately 1,600 workers in Connecticut, Frontier’s home state. “In the midst of a nationwide broadband rollout — one in which the federal government has invested over $65 billion through the Infrastructure Act — this is totally unacceptable. Many of these contractors are overseas, are paid a fraction of what CWA union members earn, and the state has no oversight over them when it comes to public safety or quality of work.”
Last night, CWA members in California won an agreement from Frontier in which the company pledged to take significant steps to comply with subcontracting limits set out in its collective bargaining agreement. The agreement is the result of about 2,000 unionized frontier workers who walked out on Friday across California in a protest strike.
“The blatant disregard for Frontier’s unionized workers is totally unacceptable. I stand with the CWA in calling for an end to shabby cost-cutting practices that are hurting their hard-working employees and endangering our communities,” he said US Senator Richard Blumenthal. “The bipartisan infrastructure bill will invest $65 billion to expand and improve broadband infrastructure. This effort should be led by our experienced and highly qualified union staff and not by commission-based contract workers who are simply hired for lower wages.”
“Time and time again, Congress has made it clear that federal dollars must go to quality local union jobs, and funding for broadband improvements in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is no exception. I am proud to support CWA Local 1298 in their fight to hold Frontier accountable by protecting Connecticut union jobs from out-of-state contractors,” he said US Senator Chris Murphy.
CWA members fought tirelessly in 2021, state by state, to create conditions surrounding Frontier’s exit from bankruptcy that would protect union jobs and commit Frontier to capital investment and deployment of fiber in congested and underserved communities. Now, CWA members, highly qualified and trained to perform public right-of-way work and experienced in safely navigating infrastructure, are often only deployed for repair work, last mile installations or technical support when the contractors inevitably fail or to come short
Sub-contractors often do not provide temporary workers with a high level of training, particularly in relation to safety and navigation of other municipal infrastructure where they may be working. As a result, Frontier’s subcontractors have put the public at risk. Last year alone:
“We have to protect union jobs – that’s not up for debate,” he said US Representative Rosa DeLauro. “I’m proud to stand with the Communications Workers of America in this fight. CWA members are highly skilled workers, yet Frontier has only used them for jobs such as repairs and last-mile installations to offset poor, cheap contract labor. This robs industrious trade unionists of their job dignity. Frontier is expanding its union workforce so they can increase profits while keeping labor costs as low as possible. You have my word that I will always stand with the CWA in the fight to protect union jobs here in Connecticut and across the country.”
“I stand with CWA Local 1298 as they stand up against Frontier’s unfair practices that harm both workers and consumers,” he said US Representative John B. Larson. “Through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the federal government is investing $100 million to expand Connecticut’s broadband Internet coverage with unionized workers. Now Frontier has to keep its end of the bargain.”
“CWA members provide essential services to our community they need to stay connected and safe, and they deserve respect and fair contracts from their employer,” he said US Representative Joe Courtney. “During the pandemic, CWA members entered people’s homes to fix telecom equipment needed for virtual learning, telemedicine visits and ongoing collaboration with family and friends, at a time when uncertainty about the virus is making it a dangerous… and incredibly demanding task. When the economy took a hit, they toned down demands for wage increases to ensure long-term job stability while Frontier weathered bankruptcy. I support CWA members and their right to use their collective voice to demand fair treatment from their employer now and in the future.”
Aside from stealing jobs from CWA union members, Frontier shadyly expands its profits, breaks its promises to the union and offers buyouts to experienced union workers, seeks to avoid overtime pay, and manipulates pay plans for commission-based workers.
“After the bankruptcy, Frontier got a second chance with the expansion of fiber optic broadband connections. But instead of providing Connecticut workers with those opportunities and protecting union jobs, as discussed during the legislative hearings, their show of good faith appears to be a broken promise,” he said Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “Instead, untrained contractors from abroad are used to avoid costs. The Communication Workers of America (CWA) are the collateral damage of these broken promises, even after they received a provision under the bill’s Internet for All initiative that favors the use of union workers to build broadband. It’s about time Frontier made good on that promise.”
“Over the past year, Frontier Communications has failed to deliver on its promises to consumers. To cut costs, Frontier has started cutting corners, using subcontractors and neglecting its employees,” he said Connecticut State Senator Jorge Cabrera. “This is especially important to our constituents as Frontier has been cited for “reckless” practices in Connecticut and fined $5 million. I am disappointed to hear that Frontier continues to ignore its valuable employees and will support CWA in its efforts to hold Frontier accountable.
“To truly deliver on our shared vision of ‘Internet for All’, Frontier must be held accountable for delivering high-speed fiber-to-the-home in the communities that need it most, and deploying trained union workers from those who… are already willing to work in our state”, said Julie Kushner, Connecticut State Senator. “With the influx of federal and state broadband funding, Connecticut has a unique opportunity to build new, sprawling broadband infrastructure, and do it right. We cannot risk indiscriminate broadband rollout by unskilled contractors who lack the necessary training or expertise, often making compromises and jeopardizing the security and quality of high-speed Internet.”
The campaign was announced Thursday at a press conference in Hartford, Connecticut, Frontier’s home state.
“Frontier Communications has broken its promise. Rather than retain its experienced Connecticut-based workforce, Frontier has eliminated hundreds of good jobs and replaced them with poorly trained out-of-state contractors – jeopardizing service quality and public safety.” the ad, which is running in Connecticut, says.
The ads will air on local television, radio and digital platforms in Connecticut, California and Texas starting today. The Communications Workers of America represents approximately 8,000 Frontier employees nationwide.
“Frontier has a responsibility to its workers and to the people of Connecticut,” she said Connecticut Sen. Matthew Lesser. “As a long-time customer and member of the Energy and Technology Committee, I will continue to ask tough questions and keep my feet on the fire.”
“Frontier’s attempt to replace highly-skilled union workers with lower-cost, poorly-trained contractors is a misguided attempt to increase profits, which is a public safety concern and will only cost our communities and taxpayers in the long run,” he said Josh Elliott, Connecticut State Representative. “Instead of hiring hundreds of foreign contractors, Frontier should offer more high-paying jobs with health care and retirement plans that help families here in Connecticut become mobile.”
Connecticut State Representative David Arconti Added, “I am disappointed that Frontier has decided to prioritize profits over obligations of its union workforce when awarding contracts for the construction of major broadband work, ignoring previous warnings from Connecticut regulators about their unsafe digs and inappropriate practices, which began in the resulted in a $5 million fine in July. I fully support CWA members and urge Frontier to reassess their priorities when it comes to supporting those who have supported the company through its most difficult times. Union workers are equipped and able to handle any project that needs to be done.”
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in the telecommunications, customer service, media, airline, healthcare, public service and education, manufacturing, technology and other sectors.