The Vermont Economy

VPR Steve Zind
VPR's Steve Zind

VPR senior reporter Steve Zind focuses on the Vermont economy and its impact on our lives. Follow Steve Zind on Twitter, post comments on the stories, and let Steve know what local economy stories you think VPR should cover.

It’s now been two months since some 1,700 union workers at FairPoint Communications walked off the job.

The unions and the company are at an impasse over changes FairPoint management wants to make to workers' pensions, health benefits and work rules. Right now, there's no end to the strike in sight.

Steve Zind / VPR

The state says despite efforts to address service delays by FairPoint Communications, the pace of customer complaints shows no sign of slowing.

The Department of Public Service says it has received more than 730 complaints about FairPoint service since workers went on strike on Oct. 17.

The department was pressing the company to resolve repair delays for telephone customers even before the strike, but says the number of complaints increased dramatically when the work stoppage began.

Some organizations who support Gov. Peter Shumlin's decision to back away from single-payer health care say there are other health care reform efforts that could have a positive impact on medical costs. 

Tom Torti, president and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, is one of those watching the health care reform efforts closely. As part of the governor's business advisory council, Torti said he has seen various scenarios for how to fund single payer and was worried about the price tag.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin’s decision to abandon his plan for single-payer health care has spurred feelings of relief, anger, surprise and confusion. And the political bombshell has everyone trying to figure out what’s next for health care reform.

About 60 protestors made their way down Main Street in Montpelier on Thursday, carrying cardboard effigies of the same Democratic governor they worked to elect not so long ago.

Wind Ridge Books

The publishing world has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Gutenberg press. Companies like Amazon have shaken up the relationship between the reader and publisher, causing some in the publishing world to think it’s becoming a commodities market.


Steve Zind / VPR

On a per-capita basis, Vermont has been the biggest recipient of federal broadband largesse: A total of $174 million.

Four years ago, Bellows Falls-based Sovernet Communications and the Vermont Telecommunications Authority received more than $30 million in federal money to build a fiber optic network in Vermont. The project is now complete.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is slated to close on Monday, Dec. 29. Employment at the plant will drop in the middle of January from around 550 employees to just over 300.

The impact is expected to be substantial in Windham County and across state lines in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Audio from this story will be posted at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.

The State Board of Education is urging lawmakers to avoid “regressive tax reform” when they consider ways to change the way education is funded in Vermont.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board approved a legislative agenda that calls for “limiting new educational legislative action, so that our scarce resources can be focused on fully and properly implementing recently passed laws.”

The three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation have once again called on FairPoint Communications to settle a two month old strike with unionized employees.

In a joint letter to the company, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch wrote, “It is becoming increasingly clear to Vermonters that management is more concerned with the interests of corporate owners of FairPoint than negotiating a reasonable agreement that is fair to your workers and customers.”

Jason R. Henske / AP

In less than two weeks, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will enter its final shutdown. The Vernon reactor has generated electricity on the banks of the Connecticut River since 1972. It’s also generated public discord, litigation and mistrust. Officials on both sides hope that’s coming to an end, now that the plant is closing. But with decades of cleanup and decommissioning ahead, the saga of Vermont Yankee and the state is far from over.

Visitors to even the least restricted areas at Vermont Yankee must stop at the gatehouse and show their ID.

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