PORTLAND — Fairpoint Communications announced today that it is offering early retirement packages to 270 employees, who work in their Portland and Burlington, Vt. call centers.

Spokesman Jeff Nevins said representatives from the Communication Workers of America were notified on Wednesday about the voluntary offers that will be made available to union members.

Workers will now have until March 26 to notify the company if they are interested. The buyouts become effective March 30.

Nevins would not go into details, but said the packages offer workers financial incentives to retire early. Though it is hard to predict, the company anticipates that about 30 employees will take advantage of the offer, Nevins said.

“We expect that some of our employees will take advantage of this offer and others will decide to stay,” Nevins said. “It is not a layoff.”

The call center employees answer phones as well as perform clerical and administrative duties.

Nevins would not rule out the possibility of layoffs in the future, adding that Fairpoint like any other business is always looking at ways to become more efficient.

Nevins said Fairpoint needs to assess its staffing on an ongoing basis because of intense marketplace competition and the gradual loss of landline telephone customers – about seven to 10 percent annually.

Nevins said the affected workers are hourly employees. “These are good jobs with good benefits,” he added.

There are no limits on the number of employees, who can take early retirement.

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