Judge to Illinois commission: Don’t Approve Verizon Deal
March 10, 2010
An Illinois administrative law judge recommended Tuesday that the state’s commerce commission reject a proposed transfer of land-based telephone lines from Verizon to Frontier Communications.
Judge Lisa Tapia wrote in her order:
“The proposed reorganization must not be approved. [It] will diminish Frontier’s ability to provide adequate, reliable, efficient, safe and least-cost public utility service.”
Verizon wants to sell operations in Illinois and 13 other states to Frontier, a move that has been fought heartily by labor unions following failed Verizon sell-offs in other states.
“The judge’s reasoning is consistent with the positions that our union took and the arguments that we made about the enormous risks this deal poses for consumers and workers,” said Jim Bates, business manager of Springfield, Ill., Local 51.
Unions, including the IBEW and CWA, want to stop the planned mergers, fearing a loss of jobs and severe cuts in the quality of service to consumers.
“We have been concerned from the beginning about the impact of the proposed merger on Frontier’s financial stability given the enormous debt that it will incur,” said Ron Kastner, business manager of Downers Grove, Ill., Local 21, the largest telecommunications local in the state.
“The minimal benefit to customers is not worth the substantial risks to which consumers would be exposed,” the judge wrote. “Thus, the risk level is so great that it warrants rejection outright.”
Her order is only a recommendation to the commission. Verizon and Frontier attorneys will file briefs later this month. The IBEW and CWA will have a chance to respond on March 25.
The two unions have intervened in state proceedings on the proposed sale in West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state. They are also intervenors in the case before the Federal Communications Commission.
Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flick user eric_hauser.