WINSLOW — Now in their 10th week on strike, FairPoint Communications workers changed tactics Tuesday by singing Christmas carols in front of the home of the company’s Maine president, Mike Reed.

“Mike has the opportunity to make this right for the workers, and we hope he does,” said Bangor resident James Feeney, a FairPoint employee of 32 years. Feeney said he can’t afford to buy presents because of the strike, so his family will delay Christmas this year.

Lined up along a public sidewalk near Reed’s Winslow house, 21 strikers sang “Let It Snow,” “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Passing motorists honked horns and gave strikers thumbs-up.

The strikers also brought a bucket of coal with a letter addressed to Reed from Santa. “It seems that FairPoint is anything but nice,” the letter says. “So this year I’m leaving you a bucket of coal! The workers say a fair contract is their number one goal!”

FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Beaudry said in a prepared statement the company regrets that the unions are “making light of the very serious issues and continue to do publicity stunts to distract rather than address those issues.”

“We would prefer that they focus their time and effort on developing counter-proposals that meaningfully address the core issues of these negotiations,” she said. “Our focus remains on serving the communities of northern New England.”

The demonstration attracted the attention of the Winslow Police Department, which parked a police cruiser nearby.

Police Chief Shawn O’Leary told the strikers they could not set foot on Reed’s property and could not block sidewalk pedestrian traffic.

Christina Williams, a 34-year employee, said they had planned to leave the coal and the note in Reed’s driveway, but they decided against that after speaking with O’Leary.

“We hope this is effective, because (Reed’s) local and most upper executives are not,” she said. “They’re removed from the situation.”

Strikers said money paid to contractors FairPoint has brought in to replace them has gone out of state instead of supporting the local economy. Noting the police presence, strikers said FairPoint has falsely accused them of vandalizing property.

“They’re villainizing good people to try to bust up the union,” Feeney said.

In October, FairPoint offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone tampering with or destroying network equipment. Then, nine days into the strike, the company said it had investigated eight incidents of vandalism to key components of its infrastructure and outside property.

A spokeswoman for the company said, “It is no coincidence that these acts of vandalism are being committed during the strike.”

More than 1,700 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have been on strike since Oct. 17 after the struggling telecommunications company 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 by the company to replace them with a non-unionized workforce.

Tuesday’s demonstration came the same day that New Hampshire officials put off a vote on a $13 million state contract for FairPoint to provide most of the phone and Internet services used by New Hampshire properties and agencies.

New Hampshire officials blamed poor service provided by FairPoint, but said the contract, which would extend FairPoint’s service to the state through 2020, will likely come up again in January.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @evanbelanger

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