By Sean Buckley FierceTelecom.com
Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have come to a tentative agreement on a four-year labor contract, putting an end to a month long strike of the telco's nearly 40,000 wireline workers.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced the agreement in a statement issued on the agency's website Friday morning.
"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 said that "I expect that workers will be back on the job next week."
Verizon offered the wireline unions a nearly 11 percent raise, a small increase in pension benefits, and a promise to add 1,400 new union jobs. In addition, Verizon agreed to scale back subcontracting and withdrew a proposal to relocate employees for extended periods -- two issues that were sticking points for the unions and the company.
Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, said in a statement that "Verizon is very pleased with this "agreement in principle."
The tentative contract was praised by both leaders of the IBEW and CWA. Both unions said that they will share the contract details with their members for approval in the coming days.
"This tentative contract is an important step forward in helping to end this six-week strike and keeping good Verizon jobs in America," said Lonnie Stephenson, IBEW President, in a statement.
Chris Shelton, President of the CWA, echoed a similar sentiment.
"The agreement in principle at Verizon is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people," Shelton said.
On May 16, Perez met with Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon; Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America; and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
During that joint meeting, the three parties said they agreed to find a way to resolve their disputes and return to the bargaining table on Tuesday to continue talks.
After not being able to negotiate what the CWA and IBEW deemed a fair contract with Verizon, the company's wireline workers began their strike on April 13.
At that time, neither the unions nor the company were able to come to an agreement over various issues related to health care, pension, and outsourcing job functions.