Verizon workers declare end to 44-day strike, claim “big gains”

Thirty-six thousand Verizon employees are close to going back to work because of an agreement struck by the company and union representatives.

The workers went on strike on April 13 after working without a contract for 10 months. The union said Verizon was seeking to move jobs offshore, outsource work to low-wage contractors, close call centers, and force technicians to go on months-long assignments away from home. Union reps also accused Verizon of cutting staff instead of living up to promises to install more FiOS fiber lines.

But there is now an agreement in principle to end the strike and sign a new four-year contract, US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced today.

“The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA [Communications Workers of America] and IBEW [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] union members for ratification,” said Perez, who helped mediate the settlement.

Though the agreement isn’t finalized, the CWA said Verizon workers have won “big gains” and will take down their pickets.

“After 44 days of the largest strike in recent history, striking CWA members have achieved our 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,” the CWA said.

During the strike, Verizon used nonunion workers to perform repairs, network maintenance, and customer service on its fiber and copper wireline networks. Verizon said there were dozens of instances of network vandalism while workers were on strike.

While there were about 165 Verizon Wireless employees involved in the strike, the vast majority of the union members are in Verizon’s wireline division. Verizon today said that the company “look[s] forward to having all of our employees soon back at work in their regular positions and doing what they do best—serving our customers.” Verizon also said it was able to obtain “meaningful changes and enhancements to the contracts that will better enable our wireline business unit to compete and succeed in the digital world.”

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