In a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, the CEO of FairPoint Communications made clear that the company has no intention of backing down in its fight with the unions that represent the roughly 800 FairPoint employees in Maine who have been on strike for more than two months.

“It is the unions that chose to walk off the job in an effort to preserve contract provisions that are wholly inconsistent with today’s competitive telecommunications landscape,” FairPoint CEO Paul Sunu wrote to Pingree. “It is the unions that will determine when they return to work.”

Sunu, who has been CEO of the North Carolina telecommunications company since August 2010, is responding to a letter Pingree sent him on Dec. 19, in which she took the company to task for the prolonged strike and “what seems like an unwillingness to compromise.”

Pingree, a Democrat who represents Maine’s 1st Congressional District, also implied in her letter that the company’s contracts with the state government could be at stake. One such contract that FairPoint has with Maine is a $32 million agreement to operate and maintain the state’s next-generation 911 emergency communication system.

Sunu didn’t address the potential loss of government contracts in his letter, but he does reject a number of Pingree’s claims, including that the company is unwilling to compromise and that it wants to outsource jobs to less experienced contractors. He claims that over the course of 24 formal meetings between company and union representatives beginning on April 25, the company made “multiple unilateral concessions without any meaningful counterproposals from the unions.”

“The time for empty and divisive union rhetoric has passed,” Sunu wrote. “It is time for the unions to make responsive and responsible proposals to the company. We are ready to work with them, as we have been from day one – any assertion to the contrary is simply untrue.”

The costs of employee benefits were at the crux of the negotiations. Under the unions’ former contracts, which expired Aug. 2, the company paid 100 percent of an employee’s health care premiums and provided a defined-benefit pension plan and a 401(k) with a company match.

The company asked for $700 million in concessions, mostly by freezing pensions, eliminating health coverage for retirees and asking employees to contribute roughly 20 percent to their health care costs. The unions offered roughly $200 million in concessions, but the company rejected those cuts as insufficient and in late August claimed the parties had reached an “impasse,” a technical term in labor law that allows the company to impose its final proposal on the unions.

“The reality is that FairPoint cannot give in to the demands of our striking unions,” Sunu wrote Tuesday. “The benefits they demand are a barrier to the telecommunications services Mainers and Maine’s economy need now and in the future.”

Sunu wrote that he is “aware of (Pingree’s) close relationship with the unions” and looked forward to clearing up “any misinformation you may have around negotiations with our unions.”

Pingree released a brief statement Tuesday in response to Sunu’s letter.

“I agree with Mr. Sunu that there is a lot at stake for Maine workers and the Maine economy, and that’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for a fair deal for the FairPoint workers,” she said. “The fact is these workers have offered hundreds of millions of dollars in concessions and they remain the best qualified men and women to maintain the telecommunications system in New England. That should be enough to get them a fair contract and back at work.”

Sunu’s position does not come as a surprise. Last week he sent a very similar letter to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who had called on FairPoint to return to the negotiating table and settle the strike.

About 800 unionized FairPoint employees in Maine walked off the job at midnight on Oct. 16, claiming the company had failed to negotiate in good faith since contract deliberations began in April. Maine’s striking workers are among more than 1,900 FairPoint employees in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who are on strike and represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America.

Since the beginning of August, the unions have filed six complaints with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the company of unfair labor practices. Two were initially rejected and are under appeal. The other four, two of which are identical and concern the company’s declaration of an “impasse” in negotiations, are pending.

The company and union representatives returned to the negotiating table for the first time since the strike began on Nov. 18. The meeting, which convened at the urging of a federal mediator, produced no results, a fact which Sunu claims in his letter to Pingree was the unions’ intended outcome all along.

“The unions publicized and built up this meeting. We were hopeful but, like so many times before, the unions offered nothing – not a single suggestion,” Sunu wrote. “Rather, the unions put out a 562-word press release within an hour of the conclusion of the meeting that included four quotes from union leadership attacking FairPoint and misleading the public. The unions appear to have had a predetermined outcome in mind – another publicity opportunity.”

FairPoint has offered landline telephone and Internet service to customers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont since 2008, when it bought Verizon’s landline business in northern New England for $2.3 billion. It struggled financially from the beginning, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and emerging two years later. In its most recent financial statement, it reported a net loss of $37.8 million during the third quarter of 2014.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.