Frontier, CWA strike new labor union contract

Frontier Communications has reached a tentative new labor union contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), covering approximately 1,400 employees in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia.

The four-year contract, which will be ratified by CWA members in the coming weeks, provides those Frontier employees with “significant wage increases, preserves existing job security language, and maintains quality health and welfare benefits.”

A CWA rep told Fierce the agreement covers both customer service representatives – including call center workers in Ashburn – and broadband technicians.

Frontier and CWA continued to negotiate on a new union contract after the previous one expired August 19 at 11:59 p.m. In July, CWA members voted to give union leaders authority to call a strike if CWA and Frontier “failed to reach a fair settlement.”

As part of the deal, Frontier is committing to creating additional jobs, which will consist of 25 full-time regular Outside Plant technicians and 10 full-time regular Engineering Assistants, said the CWA rep.

“We started this round of bargaining with one of the best contracts in the telecommunications industry,” said Mike Davis, vice president of CWA District 2-13 in a statement. “The Frontier bargaining team did an excellent job in the face of intense pressure from the company for concessions on post-Medicare retiree benefits.”

The tentative agreement also includes a 13.1% compounded wage increase, an enhanced 401(k) plan and a long-term work at home agreement.

"We have been working constructively with CWA and are pleased to have reached a Tentative Agreement that is good for our employees, our customers and our business," a Frontier spokesperson told Fierce. "We recognize the critical importance of our communications services to West Virginia. Our goal throughout the negotiations process has been to continue to provide our employees with some of the best jobs in the state, while enabling us to successfully operate our business for years to come. This agreement accomplishes that.”

Frontier’s labor negotiations with CWA come as broadband workforce shortages pose an obstacle to broadband funding rollouts, particularly those rollouts that are part of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

PwC Principal Dan Hays told Fierce in July he expects the broadband labor shortage “to get worse before it gets better,” particularly on the fiber technician side.

At Fiber Connect 2023, the Power and Communication Contractors Association’s (PCCA) principal Zachary Perconti said his organization is advocating for immigration reform “as one possible solution” to help overcome the workforce shortage.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Frontier.