- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The chief executive officer of FairPoint Communications told Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin Wednesday the unions on strike against company in northern New England have refused to bargain in good faith.

In a letter released to the public on Wednesday, FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu said his company has always been willing to negotiate with the unions that represent more than 1,700 workers across the three states. He was responding to a letter from Shumlin last week that urged the company to resolve the strike that began Oct. 17.

“FairPoint has always been willing to compromise with the unions and from the outset of negotiations, we have bargained in good faith in an effort to reach a fair deal - any assertion to the contrary is simply untrue,” Sunu said in the letter.

Sunu says the union is trying to preserve wages and benefits that are “foreign to the mainstream and to today’s competitive telecommunications market.” He said the service problems that have plagued the company since the strike are due to four major storms in 50 days.

The union’s chief negotiator, Peter McLaughlin of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said FairPoint had rejected virtually all their proposals.

“They forced us into striking so it’s really funny that they put it that way,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve offered many concessions on benefits,” he said.

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