The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approved Frontier Communications' Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan Wednesday, agreeing to expand its fiber network and pledging not to reduce its workforce in the state for at least two years.
Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April. The company received Federal Communications Commission approval for the plan earlier this month. With Connecticut’s approval, 12 of the 25 states in which Frontier operates have approved the plan.
The Communications Workers of America, which represents about 1,600 Frontier technicians and call center workers in Connecticut, had pressed for the approval to include conditions to improve service quality and preserve jobs in the state. The CWA had pointed out that Frontier has jettisoned about 740 employees in the state, about 30% of its workforce, since 2016. The union also wanted the PURA to use the oversight process to ensure the company stayed accountable to its workers and customers and not Wall Street hedge funds.
As part of the reorganization, Frontier said it would reduce debt by about $11 billion and build out its fiber network across its footprint. It expects to emerge from bankruptcy early this year. In December, the company named former Vodafone executive Nick Jeffery as CEO. Jeffery, who is expected to take the helm on March 1, replaces Bernie Han, who will remain on the board of directors and assist in the transition.
Among the conditions for approval in Connecticut, Frontier agreed to add at least an additional 100,000 locations in the state in a four-year period ended Dec. 31, 2024, pledged not to reduce its technicians and call center workforce through involuntary attrition for two years and promised to maintain its corporate headquarters in Connecticut.
In a statement, CWA Local 1298 president Dave Weidlich said the PURA approval commits Frontier to expanding its fiber network and offers some protections for employees, but fell short of the mark.
“However, we believe this was a missed opportunity to follow the lead of other states who have put stronger conditions on Frontier related to capital investment, broadband deployment and workforce retention,” Weidlich added. “CWA remains committed to working with Frontier to provide the best possible service to Connecticut customers and to ensure that Frontier lives up to both the letter and spirit of this decision. We hope that this decision will serve as a starting point for Frontier’s continued investment and that Frontier makes a strong, ongoing commitment to Connecticut homes and businesses to provide Connecticut with the connectivity we deserve.”
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