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 Clinton5 things to watch in the Democratic debates Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt Mellman: Are primary debates different? MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump says he'll watch Democratic debate while en route to Japan 'because I have to' The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? 5 things to watch in the Democratic debates MORE, have expressed their support for the workers, as has liberal favorite Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump says he'll watch Democratic debate while en route to Japan 'because I have to' The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? 5 things to watch in the Democratic debates 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.