Robert F. Bukaty, File, Associated Press
In this Oct. 22, 2009 file photo, Peter Adams, a telephone line splicer for FairPoint Communications, works from a bucket in Freeport, Maine. The telephone service provider for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont declared an impasse after four months of labor negotiations. More than 1,700 workers were advised by union officials Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, to be on “standby” for a possible strike or lockout.

PORTLAND, Maine — FairPoint Communications workers in northern New England say they knew concessions were in the offing going into labor negotiations with two unions. But they say the telecommunications company isn't playing fair.

The more than 1,700 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communication Workers of America are now on standby for a possible strike after FairPoint announced an impasse.

Effective Thursday morning, FairPoint imposed its final offer. The plan freezes the existing pension plan, allows the company to hire contractors, eliminates retiree health care benefits and requires workers to share health care costs.

The old contract has been in place since the days before FairPoint bought Verizon's land-based telephone operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.