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CTC workers reject final offer

Consolidated Telecommunications Co. workers recently rejected management’s “last, best, final offer.”

No further bargaining sessions have been set and CTC officials said they are evaluating all options with their legal adviser in hopes of moving forward.

The options available to management, according to a statement from the union, include implementing their last offer or returning to the bargaining table with the union. A spokesman for management said they aren’t limited to those two choices and are evaluating all options.

Union officials said in a statement representatives of the 31 workers affected by the negotiations have been negotiating a contract with CTC management since November of 2011 and have on three separate occasions rejected the employer’s proposals. The union contract expired at midnight on Dec. 31, 2011.

Communications Workers of America officials said the unresolved issue is a 14 percent wage reduction for several employees working as customer sales and service representatives.

“The only workers seeing this reduction in wages are the women,” Shane Hardee, president of CWA Local 7212, said. “The employer is telling us that the reason for the reduction is that these employees are paid more than market rates. But our review of the work these women perform and the market rate doesn’t quite jibe with the actual data.”

The union stated the CTC is economically doing quite well and its wealth is based directly on the contribution these workers make to CTC’s success.

A statement from management said CTC has continued to work with CWA in good faith to reach an agreement on a new contract.

“We are disappointed that the last best final offer was rejected,” Kevin Larson, CEO/general manager of CTC, said in a statement. “CTC has offered a competitive compensation plan to the CWA members which was fair to our employees and in the best interest of our cooperative.”

Kristi Westbrock, director of human resources at CTC, said 84 percent of the male and female workers covered under the collective bargaining agreement have been offered a wage increase.

“We have closely evaluated our customer service department to ensure they are fairly compensated and have the opportunity to develop their professional careers at CTC.”

The workers at CTC have been receiving full wages and benefits during negotiations while working with an expired contract, CTC officials said.

Formed in 1952, CTC is a not-for-profit cooperative that is owned by members.

CTC is a rural telephone provider providing local phone service, high speed Internet, digital TV and information technology support for area businesses.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860