Maine’s largest telecommunications company has announced plans to lay off nearly a quarter of its unionized customer service workers in the state Friday, ahead of the company’s $3.1 billion sale to a private equity firm and a Canadian investment management group.

Consolidated Communications, which is the parent of internet brand Fidium, told workers it would eliminate 12 of 53 union positions in what was once a 150-person department, according to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2327. It reportedly plans to transfer the work overseas to a call center in the Philippines.

Jennifer Gosselin, a splice service technician with Consolidated Communications, gets supplies out of one of their vans on Great Diamond Island on Feb. 7. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Maine’s U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden sent the company’s president and CEO, Bob Udell, a letter Thursday urging him “in the strongest possible terms to reconsider this decision based on its harmful impacts – not only on your workers and their families, but on your company’s capacity to provide quality service to customers in Maine, now and into the future.

“We ask that you choose instead to invest in your employees and the communities you serve,” they wrote to the company’s leader.

Representatives of the company said it is “taking steps to manage costs within a highly competitive industry” while shifting its focus to fiber internet. And though the cut positions make up nearly a quarter of the company’s unionized customer service staff, they amount to “less than 2% of our workforce in Maine,” said Nicole Elton, a senior manager on Consolidated Communications’ public relations team.

“While this is a difficult step, it is necessary to ensure a sustainable Company positioned for long-term investment in Maine, both in broadband infrastructure and our team,” Elton wrote in a statement to the newspaper.


Though Consolidated Communications reportedly told workers the layoffs were for “budgetary” purposes, union and congressional leaders say the news fits into a “troubling” trend at the company.

Consolidated Communications has eliminated 176 IBEW union positions, or 32% of the unionized workforce, since it acquired the company from FairPoint Communications in 2017, according to IBEW Vice President Michael Monahan. It purchased the company for $1.5 billion.

Monahan alleged that Consolidated Communications also “eliminated upwards of 75-80% of the workers” in the Bangor and Portland customer-service departments represented by another union, the Communications Workers of America.

And, he said, the cuts come at a time when money to expand internet service has been pouring in.

“Consolidated announced a surplus of customer service representatives in Maine because of ‘cost savings’ and not because there is not enough work,” Monahan wrote. “In fact, these workers in Maine are overwhelmed with work and their years of experience cannot be replaced.”

The company has spent millions of dollars expanding high-speed, fiber-optic internet across the state. Consolidated reported in July that more than 250,000 Maine homes and business have access to the company’s fiber-optic service. It has done so in part with over $35.3 million in grants from the Maine Connectivity Authority, a broadband expansion organization funded by federal and state dollars.


“Companies like Consolidated that receive these broadband grants are supposed to drive this historic investment in creating a skilled, competitive, and diverse workforce,” Monahan wrote.

He slammed the company for eliminating jobs “at the same time that they have been feeding at the trough with hundreds of millions in dollars in federal and state funding.”

He also alleged it has been hiring hundreds of out-of-state contractors to build out its premium broadband product, Fidium, in Maine.

“It is shameful that Consolidated entrusts their flagship Fidium Fiber product to hundreds of untrained contractors with no vested interest in the company compared to the loyalty and commitment you would have with your own employees in providing exceptional customer service, quality and pride in the job.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.