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Frontier seeks injunction against striking workers

Frontier Communications workers and supporters demonstrate outside the Frontier building in Charleston on March 5. About 1,400 Frontier Communications employees in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, have been on strike since March 4. On Thursday, Frontier asked a judge for an injunction against the striking workers.

Frontier Communications asked a judge Thursday to stop its striking workers in West Virginia and Ashburn, Virginia, from engaging in what the company calls “rampant unlawful activity,” as well as abuse of other Frontier employees, including workers brought in to fill the strikers’ jobs.

About 1,400 employees represented by Communications Workers of America Local 142 have been on strike since March 4, after union leaders and the company failed to reach a contract agreement.

Frontier filed a request for an injunction Thursday afternoon in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The CWA and its local affiliates are named as defendants in the complaint.

The corporation and its subsidiaries, Frontier West Virginia Inc. and Citizens Telecommunications Company of West Virginia, are seeking the court’s “immediate assistance to protect life, limb and property,” according to the complaint.

“Rather than contain themselves to peaceful picketing and protest, as the law requires, the defendants have embarked down a dangerous and lawless road throughout Kanawha County and elsewhere in West Virginia,” Frontier officials said in the complaint.

Ed Mooney, vice president of CWA District 2-13, said the union isn’t concerned with Frontier’s pursuit of an injunction because its members are following the law.

“We are mobile picketing the scabs they brought into the state and, to our knowledge, there have been no incidents,” Mooney said.

He said Frontier wants “to use the courts to subdue their workers, so they can continue to use strike-breakers.”

In their complaint, Frontier officials said the “unlawful mass picketing and other strike-related misconduct” resulted in more than 100 incidents of abuse reported to the company.

The alleged abuse reportedly was committed against employees of Mercury Z, who have been subcontracted by Frontier to do installation and repair work during the strike. Non-union Frontier employees also allege abuse, according to the company’s lawsuit.

Employees of Securitas USA and Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, who were hired to provide security services for Frontier in connection with the strike said they also were abused by striking employees, according to the complaint.

Several employees who claimed abuse provided sworn affidavits that were included as part of the 69-page complaint.

Frontier officials say employees on strike have blocked access to enter or leave Frontier locations and property, threatened and committed violence against other Frontier employees and contractors, committed dangerous driving tactics on the road to cause collisions or force Frontier contractors off the road, and committed “rampant” vandalism and property destruction.

“Defendants cannot be permitted to continue this illegal conduct,” Frontier said in the complaint. “Left unchecked, someone may be seriously injured or killed.”

Last week, a Georgia man slated to become a temporary worker for Frontier during the strike allegedly pulled a gun on a picketing employee in Braxton County.

The man, Ato Oronde Clark, was arrested and charged with one count of brandishing a weapon. Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski said at the time that Clark “was not doing work for [Frontier] yet,” and added that Clark’s contractor terminated its relationship with him.

Frontier said defendants “will suffer no harm if the injunction is granted,” saying they can “continue to picket and protest in a peaceful manner.”

Frontier is using management members, outside contractors and representatives from other organizations to respond to service calls and repair equipment during the strike.

The union has expressed several problems with Frontier, ranging from its use of contractors that put jobs at risk to not improving its West Virginia network enough.

Frontier maintains that it has made major improvements to the network, adding that current contract offers include generous wages and benefits.

Mooney said no progress has been made in contract discussions with Frontier since the strike began. The union is seeking 100 percent protection against layoffs, while the company is offering 85 percent job protection.

Reach Max Garland at, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

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