Welch, Sanders Call For Reversal of FairPoint Layoffs
BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 14 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Tuesday called upon the CEOs of FairPoint Communications and the Illinois company that is set to purchase it, Consolidated Communications Holdings, to reverse the planned layoff of nearly 10 percent of FairPoint’s workforce.
“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,” Sanders and Welch wrote to FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu. “These workers helped build the company’s value, yet they are being discarded as collateral damage of a sale designed to maximize profits for a tiny group of Wall Street hedge fund investors.”
In their letter to the CEO of Consolidated Communications, which is in the process of purchasing FairPoint, Sanders and Welch outlined FairPoint’s checkered history in dealing with its Vermont workforce, stating “FairPoint’s relationship with its workforce was unnecessarily antagonist.” The Charlotte, N.C.-based phone company purchased Verizon Communication’s landline phone operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in 2007.
“Instead of negotiating a reasonable labor agreement, [FairPoint] pursued drastic cuts to pay and benefits that led to a four-month strike in 2014-15,” Sanders and Welch wrote. “Just three months after the strike ended, FairPoint closed its South Burlington call center and laid-off more than 70 unionized workers. Most recently, FairPoint announced last month that it was laying off nearly 10 percent of its remaining workforce, presumably to make the company more attractive for the sale to Consolidated.”
Sanders and Welch said reversing the layoffs would “be a significant demonstration of good faith” on Consolidated’s part.
“We urge you to reverse FairPoint’s decision and send the clear message that Consolidated values its workers and the communities in which the company operates. We know the CWA and IBEW welcome the opportunity to work with Consolidated to help make its New England operations successful again,” Sanders and Welch wrote.