BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 18 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today after FairPoint Communications CEO Paul Sunu snubbed a request from the Vermont congressional delegation for the North Carolina company to negotiate an end to a two-month strike by about 1,700 New England workers:
“I am deeply disappointed, but not surprised, with the response from Mr. Sunu. His letter confirms what I have long suspected. FairPoint wants to slash wages and benefits for Vermont workers and it refuses to negotiate in good faith. In essence his letter says FairPoint’s bargaining posture is ‘take it or leave it, we want it our way, and we’re not going to make any compromises.’
“Mr. Sunu fails to mention that the unions already have offered more than $200 million in concessions, nor does he describe just how deep FairPoint’s proposed cuts are. I think most Vermonters would be very surprised to know that FairPoint’s opening positon on new employee wages was below Vermont’s minimum wage.
“Mr. Sunu also does not seem aware just how bad FairPoint service has become. Frankly, the people of Vermont are becoming sick and tired of poor customer service that is getting worse by the day.
“It is time for FairPoint to put its customers’ safety and its workers wellbeing ahead of the interests of the multi-billion dollar Wall Street hedge funds that stand to profit from a sale of the company. It is time for FairPoint to negotiate a contract that respects the contributions of its experienced and dedicated workforce.”
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