Verizon, striking unions reach agreement in principle

Verizon, striking unions reach agreement in principle
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Verizon and labor unions representing thousands of striking workers have agreed in principle to a new contract, bringing parties a step closer to resolving a dispute that has lasted for more than a month, according to the Department of Labor.

The company and the two unions representing the workers are now putting the agreement for a four-year contract in writing, the agency said, at which point it will need to be approved by the membership of both organizations.

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“Throughout the past 13 days of negotiations at the Department of Labor, I have observed firsthand the parties’ good faith commitment to narrowing differences and forging an agreement that helps workers and the company,” Secretary of Labor Tom Perez said. “I expect that workers will be back on the job next week.”

The announcement is a step toward the end of a strike that has continued into its second month.

Workers said the company wanted to impose draconian cuts on their benefits and make it easy to send them out of state for months at a time. The company said the strike was just a way for the unions to throw a wrench into contract negotiations.

The strike has attracted support from national politicians. Both Democratic candidates for president, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMissing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani On The Money: Trump downplays urgency of China trade talks | Chinese negotiators cut US trip short in new setback | Trump sanctions Iran's national bank | Survey finds Pennsylvania, Wisconsin lost the most factory jobs in past year Meghan McCain, Ana Navarro get heated over whistleblower debate MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Krystal Ball tears into 'Never Trump' Republicans 2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MORE, have expressed their support for the workers, as has liberal favorite Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted MORE (D-Mass.).

Perez and the Labor Department stepped in earlier this month when the unions and the telecom company had yet to reach a deal.

The roughly 40,000 workers are mostly employed by Verizon’s wireline business on the East Coast. Verizon executives have indicated in recent days that the strike was affecting the number of new installations the company has been able to complete in this quarter.