FairPoint Communications will cut 260 jobs in 17 states, including 60 at Vermont call center

Associated Press

FairPoint Communications is cutting about 260 jobs in the 17 states where it operates, including 60 jobs when it closes a South Burlington call center, officials said Friday.

The breakdown of the layoffs has not been determined, a company spokeswoman said. But unions that represent workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont said 219 of the workers would come from the three states, more than 10 percent of the workforce in the region.

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Maine Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said 79 of the workers to lose their jobs will be in Maine.

FairPoint Communications Inc. is the largest landline telephone network provider in the three states, and last year workers in the three states went on strike for four months. In March the company said the strike and bad weather caused it to lose $43.6 million in the last three months of 2014.

The company, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said the latest layoffs and other "headcount reductions" over the last two years are the approximate equivalent of the number of voice lines the company has lost over the same period.

"Faced with the realities of the industry and the competitive landscape in which we operate, we must be keenly focused on managing costs and enhancing productivity," FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu said. "These steps, while difficult, help solidify our future."

FairPoint spokeswoman Angelynne Amores said the work being done at the Vermont call center would be taken over at two other FairPoint call centers in the region.

Union officials said the cuts would further erode the quality of FairPoint service in the region.

"FairPoint has failed to meet service quality benchmarks for years, and cutting its skilled workforce by more than 10 percent will only make matters worse," said Peter McLaughlin, of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Maine. "We are disgusted by this company's total disregard for its employees and customers."