About 350 FairPoint workers arrived Friday morning at the Fireside Inn in Portland to learn about the tentative agreement on a new contract with the company and to vote to ratify.

FairPoint, which provides much of the landline phone service in northern New England, and striking members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America reached the tentative agreement on a new contract Thursday.

Members of both the IBEW Local 2327 and CWA Local 1400 learned the details of the agreement together Friday but voted on separate ballots.

The deal will maintain the pension plan, according to Scott Boudreau, a data technician who has worked for the company for 18 years.

He also said the health insurance is much better than the company had originally offered.

“I am voting for it. It is a good deal,” he said. “It is far better than what they were trying to ram down our throats.”

The voting will continue over the weekend in Maine. There will be a meeting in Bangor at 4 p.m. Friday, in Presque Isle at 11 a.m. Saturday and in Augusta at 9 a.m. Sunday. Union members will also be voting in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Friday’s meeting was not open to the press but as it got underway a big cheer could be heard from inside the hotel meeting room.

One man shouted, “One day longer, one day stronger,” a popular chant during the strike.

Even before learning the details of the agreement, union members coming into the hotel seemed jubilant. People were hugging each other expressing relief that the strike was over, after going 18 weeks without a paycheck.

Peggy Collin of Falmouth, a customer service representative for FairPoint, said she struggled financially during the strike. She is a single mom with a 20-year-old son at home. Collin said prospective employers would not hire her as they expected she would return to work at FairPoint.

Both she and her son eventually got jobs at an Irving gas station but by then the financial damage had taken its toll. Her house and car were foreclosed on.

“I am so excited,” she said as she walked to the hotel. “It makes me want to cry.”

Julie Dawkins, an administrative assistant in Portland and chief steward of the IBEW local, said that the workers came together and supported each other during the 127 days of the strike, which went a lot longer than she and most others thought it would.

She said the workers survived on the support they received from each other and from supporters around the country.

“We are like a family now,” she said. “We are definitely stronger than they were.”

This story will be updated.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.