(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)
By LOU D’ALLESANDRO
I remember my wife walking a picket line 25 years ago when the then phone company employees were on strike. As the mother of three young children, and at that time, the main breadwinner and supplier of health care, it took courage to do what had to be done. She did it because it was the right thing to do for her family and her fellow co-workers.
Today I am witnessing a strike in New Hampshire that makes no sense. The workers at FairPoint have asked recently that the company return to the bargaining table and have a good faith effort to end this strike. Labor has been extending its hand to the company over and over again, yet at a time when communication is imperative, the company refuses to join with labor and discuss the way to save jobs and save the company. Cooler heads must prevail if this stalemate is to end and the time to end this is now.
Twenty-five years ago we saw this same fight and that strike lasted nearly four months before it was solved. This is the 21st century. Our economy depends on communication. Customer complaints against FairPoint have skyrocketed since the strike began. Multiple 911 systems have failed for extended periods of time, jeopardizing public safety. That’s simply unacceptable. We can’t afford for this strike to go on any longer. Unless we work together to solve this problem, we as a state, could be the big loser.
These men and women who are walking the line are one of the keys to restoring and keeping our communication intact. It’s about time to be civil to one another and communicate. The lives of families are on the line. When you lose health care coverage, your lifestyle is significantly impacted.
Everyone I have spoken to is willing to do what makes sense – sit down and bargain. The union has given the company a number of items to discuss that save money and move the game forward but the company says no on every item.
The men and women of the IBEW and CWA are hard-working citizens who have done a great job over the years. Why must these people lose their health benefits that they have labored long and hard to gain?
Let’s get going and have an open and honest discussion so that we can bring the workers back to do their jobs. They are seeking a fair contract that includes wages and benefits consistent with a job well done. It’s in the best interest of all to reach an agreement. It was accomplished 25 years ago. Let’s learn from the lessons of the past and not make a mistake.
(Lou D’Allesandro is a Democratic state Senator who is now in his ninth term serving District 20, which comprises Goffstown and Wards 3, 4, 10 and 11 in the City of Manchester. He has also been an Executive Councilor and a member of the state House of Representatives.)