Verizon’s Union Deal “In Principle” Ends Strike

CWA Protestors

Workers are expected to return to work this week.

Verizon Communications Inc and labor unions that represent the company’s almost 40,000 workers reached a 4-year tentative deal “in principle” that will end the employees’ strike which they launched on April 13, according to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on Friday.

After the announcement, shares of Verizon, the U.S.’s top wireless company, increased by 1.2 percent. Afternoon trading saw shares at $50.61, up by about 1 percent.

Workers walked off from their jobs when talks about their contracts came to a standstill. Among the workers were network technicians and customer service representatives from the company’s Fios Internet, telephone and television services. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers called for the large exodus of workers to force the company to take action.

Parties involved in the deal are in the process of drafting an agreement that will be given to the unions to be ratified. Next week, company employees should be back at work, according to Perez’s statement.

The terms of the agreement have yet to be revealed.

Job relocations, offshoring of call center jobs, pensions and healthcare coverage were the crux of negotiating a new contract.

The 44-day strike was potentially costly and sometimes contentious, and the new deal is set to end the strike and begin healthcare coverage that ended May 1 and give employees a new contract that had already expired in August.

In 2011, the company’s last negotiations with unions also caused a two-week strike that ended with the continuation of contract talks.

Union workers are still wary without the release of the deal’s terms, but are relieved by the news of a tentative deal, according to an interview Friday.

One of Verizon’s field technicians, 45-year-old Fitz Boyce, has been protesting in front of a Verizon store in Times Square, New York ever since the strike began. “(The strike’s) been a burden on my family and myself.”

The CWA said that Verizon agreed “to add good union jobs on the East Coast” in a statement.

The company said that Verizon’s new deal with trade unions is in line with the company’s “objective of creating high quality American jobs.”

Perez brought both Verizon and the trade unions together into the negotiating table mediated by the U.S. Department of Labor in mid-May after the failure of talks ended discussions previously.

U.S. East Coast states have been affected by the strike, including New York and Massachusetts. The company said that it has trained managers and thousands of non-union employees in the previous year in the event of such a stoppage and to prevent the disruption of services.

According to Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo, new installations and orders “significantly dropped” pressuring the company’s bottom line which company executives have been hinting at in recent weeks.

Workers took their protests outside Verizon stores and places where company executives held conferences. U.S. Presidential candidates from the Democratic party, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, supported the workers’ strike.

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