WATERVILLE — More than two dozen striking workers from FairPoint Communications Inc. picketed outside Colby College on Friday, saying college trustee Michael Gordon is in a position to bring the telephone and Internet provider back to the bargaining table.

“We believe Michael Gordon has the power to bring a resolution to this dispute, but so far, he has refused to publicly intervene on behalf of Maine’s working families,” said Christina Williams, a 34-year veteran of the company and an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2327. “FairPoint workers and our allies call on Michael Gordon to reconsider his position.”

Gordon is the chief investment officer for New York-based Angelo, Gordon & Co., a privately held hedge fund and alternative-investment manager that focuses on distressed investments, including FairPoint.

FairPoint workers said Angelo, Gordon holds the largest stake in FairPoint Communications, a publicly traded company based in North Carolina, and that they wanted to draw attention to Gordon. FairPoint workers, including about 800 in Maine, are entering their second week of striking after saying FairPoint had acted in bad faith during contract negotiations.

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by FairPoint and by Angelo, Gordon indicate the investment firm has sole sale and voting rights for shares representing a 19.2 percent stake in the company.

NO COLBY COMPLAINTS

Posted at each campus entrance, picketers chanted and held signs with slogs like “Michael Gordon is corporate greed” and “Colby trustees reject Wall Street greed.”

“We want basically to maintain what we have and keep fair wages for the state of Maine and good jobs for the state of Maine,” said Lee Pettengill, a Fairpoint employee of 16 years.

A request for comment from Angelo, Gordon was not responded to Friday. Strikers said they weren’t certain Gordon was on campus for the morning’s board of trustees meeting, but they wanted to send a message.

Ruth Jackson, assistant vice president for communications at Colby, said she had not gotten any complaints about the strikers causing any disruptions for students or staff.

“While open dialogue that includes dissent is part of the fabric of Colby’s intellectual culture, the issues raised by employees of FairPoint are outside the purview of the college,” Jackson said in a prepared statement.

More than 1,900 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who are members of the IBEW and Communication Workers of America have been on strike since Oct. 17 after FairPoint sought $700 million in concessions from its workforce.

Union leaders said they offered more than $200 million in concessions, but they would not agree to let FairPoint utilize contract labor, which they said was a move to replace them with a non-unionized workforce.

FINANCIAL STRUGGLES

Quarterly financial reports suggest Fairpoint is losing money.

Of the previous four years, it only reported a profit in one year. FairPoint lost $93.45 million in 2013 alone.

During the first half of this year, the company lost $55.03 million. Third- and fourth-quarter financials were not yet available.

As an institutional investment manager with more than $100 million under management, Angelo, Gordon is required to file a statement with Securities and Exchange Commission listing securities over which it has “investment discretion.”

In its last filing, on Aug. 14, Angelo, Gordon said it held sole sale and voting authority for 5,128,325 shares of FairPoint. In FairPoint’s most recent quarterly report, the company said it had 26,705,433 shares of common stock outstanding.

In a prepared statement, FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Beaudry said the company has implemented its final proposals, but remains will to negotiate with the employees and respond to any meaningful counterproposals from the unions.

“So far, we have not received any such counterproposals,” she said.

Members of the United Steel Workers Union Local 449 joined FairPoint workers at Colby, as a show of support.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @ebelanger

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