MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – A union representing telecommunication workers complained to Vermont lawmakers Wednesday, saying FairPoint Communications Inc. is outsourcing 34 jobs it had promised to bring to Vermont.

A FairPoint representative testified that although the company intended to move the jobs to South Burlington, it’s had a change of heart.

“The challenge is as we’re looking at the economy and evaluating our processes we decided that rather than bringing more employees in for that function we would leave it as an outsourced function,” said Pam Porell, FairPoint’s vice president of government operations.

Don Trementozzi, representing Communications Workers of America, said FairPoint promised during April contract negotiations to move the credit collections jobs to Vermont.

“They’re going back on their commitments and the cutover hasn’t even started yet,” he told the Senate Economic Development and House Commerce committees, referring to the transition from the Verizon network.

While updating lawmakers on the cutover and expansion of high speed Internet access in Vermont, Porell said under Verizon, collections were done outside of northern New England.

Trementozzi, who represents 110 FairPoint workers in Vermont, said Verizon never outsourced collections.

Commissioner David O’Brien of the Department of Public Service, which regulates telephone companies and other utilities, said he would have preferred the jobs come to Vermont, but that the state did not have a regulatory role in the matter.

Where the company’s collections jobs would be based “was not part of the regulatory commitments made by FairPoint and not subject to the order issued by the (Public Service) board” approving the sale by Verizon to FairPoint, he said.

O’Brien said hoped the decision to outsource the jobs would make FairPoint stronger in other respects.

“As much as we want the jobs, there’s a duality here that the more that the company makes their financial model work … that allows them to be that much more successful in deploying broadband, improving the network and meeting their other commitments in Vermont,” the commissioner said.

Aside from the jobs, Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, R-Essex-Orleans, the chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee, asked how a recent downgrade in FairPoint’s credit rating and loss of access lines might affect FairPoint’s plans in Vermont.

The expansion of high-speed Internet service is budgeted and will help retain land line customers, Porell said.

“The strategy is if we have DSL available then the customer will not leave us at all. They’ll stay,” she said.

AP-ES-01-28-09 1810EST

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