Verizon, union make peace after 35,000 strike techies put telco on hold

Four-year contract to be drawn up after six weeks of protests

Verizon has reached a deal that will end the six-week strike by many of its network technicians.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) says it has brokered a deal for a four-year contract between Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Verizon workers are expected to return to the job next week.

"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," said DOL secretary Thomas Perez.

"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."

Members of the CWA and the IBEW walked off the job in April after failing to reach an agreement with Verizon on a new contract. The unions, which comprise most of Verizon's network maintenance and repair technicians in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US regions, cited a number of grievances with the company, including wages and plans to outsource support jobs to overseas call centers.

While Verizon has maintained that it has enough temporary workers and trained non-union employees to cover its operations during the strike, a report from the DOL estimates that as many as 35,100 jobs were idle from payroll during the strike period.

The announcement comes after an extended quiet period by both sides as union officials and Verizon execs continued to negotiate. The DOL has been facilitating talks between Verizon and the unions for the last two weeks in hopes of resolution. Part of the agreement was that both sides would maintain silence to the press.

Neither Verizon or the CWA have released comment on the deal.

In a separate development, the CWA said that its San Diego chapter had settled a strike in California with AT&T that has seen 1,700 workers in that region striking since May 19. ®

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