Verizon Communications and unions representing nearly 40,000 line workers have reached an agreement in principle that could end the weeks-long strike that has rocked the company, according to the U.S. Dept of Labor.
About 39,000 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America members walked off the job on April 13 after they were unable to hammer out a contract with the telecom provider. The new deal, according to the Department of Labor, is for four years, but still must be approved by the rank and file.
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez brought the parties to the negotiating table May 17 in the hopes of reaching a compromise. A day later they all agreed to federal mediation in the dispute.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management,” Perez said in a statement. “The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA and IBEW union members for ratification.
Perez added that he expected workers to be “back on the job next week.”
CWA said it had achieved its major goals of "improving working families’ standard of living, creating good union jobs in our communities and achieving a first contract for wireless retail store workers."
“CWA appreciates the persistence and dedication of Secretary Perez, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Allison Beck and their entire teams," said Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America. "The addition of new, middle-class jobs at Verizon is a huge win not just for striking workers, but for our communities and our country as a whole. The agreement in principle at Verizon is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people. This proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and protect the American middle class.”
“I offer my deep gratitude to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Allison Beck for all their efforts to help us reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement that gets our members back on the job," said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers president Lonnie Stephenson.
“This tentative contract is an important step forward in helping to end this six-week strike and keeping good Verizon jobs in America," said Stephenson. "We will be sharing the details of it with our members for approval in the immediate days ahead. My thanks to our members, along with those of the CWA, who made numerous sacrifices to finally come to this point. They look forward to returning to work serving their customers, working under a strong pro-worker and pro-jobs contract.”
“Verizon is very pleased with this “agreement in principle," said Marc Reed, Verizon chief administrative officer. "The agreement is consistent with our objective of creating high quality American jobs and achieving meaningful changes and enhancements to the contracts that will better enable our wireline business unit to compete and succeed in the digital world. We also reached an 'agreement in principle'on contracts for about 165 Verizon Wireless employees. In the meantime, we look forward to having all of our employees soon back at work in their regular positions and doing what they do best – serving our customers.”
John Eggerton contributed to this report.