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News : FairPoint Call Center Closure Lays Off 64 Vermonters
South Burlington, VT, USA, July, 2015 -- For months technicians and customer service workers at FairPoint Communications, Inc. took to the streets for a fair contract., only to be told months later their contracts and jobs are gone.
FairPoint is cutting 260 positions across 17 states.
In Vermont, the South Burlington Call Center closed it doors on Friday leaving 64 workers without a job.
FairPoint Communications announced the cuts in May, just months after the company and its union workers reached a deal following a seven months strike.
"Our members fought a long, drawn out fight. They stayed out on the street and it's absolutely maddening and very upsetting that you would go through that kind of strike and immediately it seems like retaliation, that the company goes out and layoffs these people," said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326.
Mike Spillane with IBEW said 20 of it's members were laid off and 34 from Communication Workers of America in Vermont.
Other cuts will come from operations across 17 states, including 66 in New Hampshire and 80 in Maine.
"They've just allowed these people's careers and lives to be uprooted and destroyed," said Spillane.
The FairPoint Call Center is the only one in Vermont. It's closure means the next closest one is in Maine.
Too far for Vermonter workers.
A FairPoint spokesperson said the cuts are necessary because of fewer customers and a drop in revenue.
In a statement, FairPoint said, "Today is a difficult day for the employees impacted by this layoffs...and are committed to Vermont and our Vermont customers."
But Spillane said it's hard to believe closing the call center won't hurt customers.
"Moving the work from all these people to Portland, without adding extra jobs. The people in Portland are already taxed with what they're doing in a day, and dumping it on them and I'm afraid it's going to impact the customer," said Spillane.
The Vermont Public Service Board told Local 22 & 44 customer complaints have gone down since the strike was resolved in February.
There is a service quality investigation open right now on FairPoint.
It's regarding a state-wide outage that occurred the day after Thanksgiving and the amount of time it takes for residential repairs by the company.
The union is still fighting the layoffs and are taking the matter to an arbitrator.
FairPoint said it will provide severance based on years of service.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About FairPoint Communications:
FairPoint Communications, Inc. is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and operates communication services in 31 markets in 17 states, mostly in rural areas.
Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2015