US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez today announced that Verizon has reached a tentative deal with the Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, all but ending a strike that encompassed an estimated 35,000 workers and has now stretched on for more than six weeks. The new contract would last for four years, and is currently being finalized. The secretary said workers could return to their jobs as early as next week. "This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining," said Perez in a statement.
The strike was limited to East Coast workers employed by Verizon's wireline business, which encompasses FioS and landline phone service, but operates independently of the Verizon Wireless carrier business. The union's previous contract expired in August, but the two sides were unable to come to an agreement before the strike began on April 13th. The union's initial demands focused on wages, benefits for injured workers, and health care costs for retired workers, which the CWA said had grown unacceptably high.
"The agreement in principle at Verizon is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "This proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and protect the American middle class."
Verizon also had positive word for the agreement. "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," said chief administrative officer Marc Reed.
Update 2:52PM ET: Updated with CWA statement.
Update 5:30PM ET: Updated with Verizon statement.