WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today applauded a Vermont Public Service Department request for an investigation into FairPoint Communications telephone service interruptions, including a nearly six-hour lapse in emergency 911 service on Friday.
A FairPoint equipment failure prevented 45 Vermonters from reaching emergency dispatchers at the Montpelier Police Department and the Vermont State Police in Williston, St. Albans and Middlesex. “That is simply unacceptable,” Sanders said. “FairPoint’s history of bankruptcy and poor service should be cause for real concern in terms of the company’s ability to deliver the emergency services Vermonters need, deserve and are paying for.”
Altogether, some 400 Vermonters have made formal complaints to the Public Service Department since Sept. 4 regarding poor service.
“FairPoint is clearly putting the interests of the multi-billion-dollar hedge funds, which own the company, ahead of its workers and ahead of its Vermont customers. The company’s plan to freeze pensions, eliminate future retiree health benefits, force workers to pay hundreds of dollars more a month for health care and outsource jobs will only result in worse customer service,” Sanders said.
Sanders urged the company to return to the bargaining table. “The best way for FairPoint to improve its customer service right now is to agree to a contract that is fair to the workers so they can return to their jobs and provide quality service for Vermonters,” he said.
More than 1,700 members of the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are on strike against FairPoint in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.