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Union workers for Frontier Communications, represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), have gone on strike after failing to reach an agreement during contract negotiations.

About 1,400 Frontier workers in West Virginia and Ashburn, Va., are partaking in the strike, which started when the current CWA union contract expired just after midnight Sunday morning.  

Contract negotiations have been ongoing between Frontier and CWA members for the last 10 months. The CWA contract was originally set to expire on Aug. 5, but was extended until Nov. 4, and then again until March 3.  

CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said the decision to strike came after concerns over job cuts and lack of investment from the telco.

“Going on strike is never easy. It’s a hardship for our members and the customers who we are proud to serve,” Mooney said in a statement. “But the job cuts at Frontier have gone too far – we know it and Frontier’s customers know it. It’s time for Frontier to start investing in maintaining and rebuilding its network in West Virginia.”

Complaints have risen 69 percent over the last three years from 639 in 2014 to 1,072 in 2017, according to an analysis of informal complaints filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission. Frontier has cut more than 500 employees in West Virginia since acquiring Verizon’s landlines in the state in 2010, according to CWA.

Frontier said it will continue to try to reach an agreement with CWA members and that it offers competitive union wages.

“Frontier is proud to be one of the top employers in the state, average annual wages for union employees exceed $64,500, and more than half of all union employees earn more than $75,000 per year,” said Greg Stephens, SVP of the Midwest Region for Frontier, in statement. “Including employee benefits, the company’s average employee cost per CWA member is more than $100,000. We would like to continue to engage in constructive contract negotiations with CWA and resolve this matter quickly.”

In the meantime, Frontier announced it activated its strike contingency plan in West Virginia, relying on members of the management team, outside contractors, and representatives from other Frontier organizations to continue providing service to customers in the state.

The company said it’s working to minimize disruptions to customer service as it works to resolve the contract dispute.

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