December 23, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Burlington, VT – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch, the state’s sole Congressmember, on Dec. 14 urged executives of the main telephone company in Vermont to cancel the planned layoff of nearly 10% of its workers.
“Cutting front-line workers makes no sense when FairPoint continues to struggle with significant customer-service issues,” the two wrote to FairPoint Communications CEO Paul Sunu and C. Robert Udell, head of Consolidated Communications, the Illinois company in the process of buying it. “Moreover, it is particularly callous to destroy the livelihoods of loyal FairPoint workers just as the cold weather approaches and as families prepare to celebrate the holiday season.” These workers, they added, were being “discarded,” “presumably to make the company more attractive for the sale.” FairPoint, which took over Verizon’s landline operations in northern New England in 2007, provoked a bitter four-month strike in 2014 when it cut pay and demanded more outsourcing. Sanders and Welch told Udell that its relationship with workers was “unnecessarily antagonistic.” Read more