Frontier-CWA deal expires, but work continues as talks plow ahead

An agreement between Frontier and 1,400 workers in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, represented by the CWA has expired. Those employees have agreed to report to work, citing progress in the negotiations.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

August 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Frontier-CWA deal expires, but work continues as talks plow ahead
(Source: Frontier Communications)

A collective bargaining agreement between Frontier Communications and about 1,400 workers in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) expired Saturday night. But those employees have agreed to report to work "and maintain the status quo" as negotiations toward a new agreement continue, the CWA said Sunday.

The current agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 19, after a recent two-week contract extension. This latest dustup arrives about five years after Frontier workers represented by CWA in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virgnia, went on strike for three weeks before signing off on the deal that just expired.

According to WCHS, a TV station based in Charleston, West Virginia, some general asks by the workers are for additional job security, more affordable healthcare and the use of fewer subcontractors for fiber network activity in the state. Frontier workers in some of the affected areas reportedly have formed "informational picket" lines in recent weeks as the contract deadline neared.

CWA noted that, under federal labor law, all the economic terms and conditions of the latest deal, such as wages and benefits, remain in effect so long as the union does not strike and Frontier does not lock out the workers. The Emergency Work-at-Home agreement tied to the expiring deal also remains in effect, the organization added.

"CWA members at Frontier care deeply about the communities they serve, and will continue to work without a contract as long as we see meaningful progress at the bargaining table towards the contract we have earned and deserve," the CWA said in a statement. "Because there has been progress made in bargaining, we have agreed to continue to report to work and maintain the status quo while negotiations continue ... As talks continue, we will evaluate the progress on a regular basis and take necessary action if negotiations are not productive."

Frontier members represented by the CWA voted last month to give union leaders authority to call a strike if negotiations between Frontier and the organization failed to reach a settlement.

Frontier's turnaround, fiber buildout continues

The negotiations with this group of workers comes at a critical time for Frontier. Amid a turnaround that got underway after the company emerged from bankruptcy in April 2021, Frontier recently crossed the halfway point of a major fiber network upgrade that will cover 10 million locations by 2025. Frontier is on track to build 1.3 million new fiber passings for all of 2023.

Frontier has "contingency plans in place to ensure there is no impact to our customers," an official said via email. "We know how critical our services are to our customers, so we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue providing the services our customers need. Right now, we remain very focused on reaching a contract as soon as possible that continues to provide good jobs with competitive wages and benefits while addressing the needs of our ever-changing business and the competitive marketplace in which we operate."

Editor's note: This story has been revised with an updated comment from Frontier.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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