The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and The Utility Reform Network (TURN) Ask FCC to Examine Frontier’s Proposed Bankruptcy Plan

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and The Utility Reform Network (TURN) filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding Frontier’s bankruptcy raising concerns about whether the company’s proposed plan of reorganization is in the public interest and whether the reorganized Frontier will be in a position to invest in improved service to its customers, fulfill its commitments on service quality and broadband deployment under state and federal programs, and close the digital divide across its service area.

In the comments, CWA and TURN request that the Commission examine the effects of the proposed transaction on Frontier’s employees, including CWA members, and the meaning and potential effect of the company’s proposed “virtual separation” plan that could split the company between areas that will receive investment in fiber and those that won’t.

CWA and TURN are also asking the Commission to require Frontier to commit to investing in its network to support all Frontier customers and to no job reductions post-restructuring so that it has the sufficient resources and trained workforce needed to improve Frontier’s struggling infrastructure.

Frontier’s application asserts that there will be no change in control of the company. However, a group of shareholders who have been publicly identified as owning close to 50% of Frontier bonds have been closely coordinating in negotiations with the company and share legal representation in the bankruptcy process. This group, which includes vulture fund Elliott Management and Franklin Resources, may continue to coordinate post-bankruptcy and exert control over the decisions of the company.

"CWA members will be engaged in every step of the bankruptcy process to make sure that good union jobs are protected and Frontier invests in quality service for all customers,” said CWA President Chris Shelton.

"Customers can't afford to pay the costs of Frontier’s bankruptcy," said Christine Mailloux, TURN Managing Attorney. "The FCC should use all available tools to make sure consumers have a voice and are protected."

Background:

Frontier declared bankruptcy on April 15th. CWA is participating in the bankruptcy process as a part of the Unsecured Creditors Committee. The bankruptcy plan does not affect CWA members’ collective bargaining agreements and benefit plans.

On June 29, CWA and TURN filed joint protest on the Frontier bankruptcy approval at the California Public Utility Commission. CWA has also filed as an intervener in state regulatory proceedings to review Frontier’s bankruptcy in four other states - Connecticut, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Frontier has filed for approval of its reorganization plan in 14 states, of which four so far have concluded their proceedings. CWA and TURN believe that the FCC should refrain from making a determination on the reorganization plan until the findings of these state regulatory proceedings can be reviewed.

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