PORTLAND, Maine — Unions representing striking FairPoint workers said Tuesday that they are documenting cases of “replacement workers engaged in unsafe practices that endanger themselves and the public,” firing back at what they called “bogus” allegations of vandalism from the company.

FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Amores Beaudry issued a statement early Tuesday announcing the company’s offer of a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in eight cases of alleged tampering with its network or equipment.

“FairPoint has produced absolutely no evidence that any of our members have committed such acts,” said Augusta-based Pete McLaughlin, a lead negotiator for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “And we strongly condemn vandalism or any attempt to damage equipment or the network.”

Beaudry did not respond to an email or phone call requesting more information about the alleged vandalism, including where the incidents occurred and whether they have been reported to law enforcement officials.

The company statement did not directly accuse union members of vandalism, but it asserted that the timing of the eight incidents coincides with the labor dispute.

“Most of the strikers are exercising their legal right to stop working and to publicize their position, but it is no coincidence that these acts of vandalism are being committed during the strike,” Beaudry said in the release. “It is not enough for strikers to deny that they are vandals. We understand that the vast majority would never vandalize. But it is time to help us stop the vandalism.”

A statement from the two unions representing 800 striking workers in Maine labeled Beaudry’s release a diversionary tactic.

“The company is struggling to maintain its systems and failing to respond to many customer calls,” the statement from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said. “The company is trying to distract attention from this fact by making bogus insinuations that union members are responsible for acts of vandalism.”

About 2,000 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have been on strike since Oct. 17. The unions have said the company’s negotiators did not budge after demanding about $700 million in concessions.

After declaring an impasse in late August, the company imposed its last offer on workers, freezing pensions, opening a two-tier wage system that can pay new hires as low as minimum wage and opening enrollment for a more costly health care plan.

The company’s management and unions also have clashed over picketing at the work sites of replacement workers, where the company has said some replacement workers are being harassed.

Glenn Brackett, an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers business manager in New Hampshire, said in the statement that the unions’ members are taking notes on unsafe practices of workers during these “mobile pickets” that will be reported to “the proper authorities.”

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.