After weeks of striking in an attempt to force Verizon to meet their demands, employees of the company agreed to put down their pickets after Big Red and union representatives struck a tentative agreement, CNN has reported.
According to U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who also served as mediator, Verizon and its unions agreed in principle to a new four-year contract. The Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the unions involved in the matter, said the agreement has yet to be finalized, but it gives Verizon workers “big gains.”
“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,” said the CWA.
The agreement will also be sent to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the CWA and IBEW will vote on whether to ratify the contract sometime soon. Ratification would officially put the kibosh on the strike.
Verizon is eager to put all of this behind it, with the company looking forward “to having all of our employees soon back at work in their regular positions and doing what they do best — serving our customers.” The company also did not reveal specific information regarding the contract, though it obtained “meaningful changes and enhancements to the contracts that will better enable our wireline business unit to compete and succeed in the digital world.”
The majority of strikers worked in Verizon’s wireline division. (just roughly 165 Verizon Wireless workers participated). In total, 36,500 Verizon employees picked up their pickets to strike on April 13 in the hopes of addressing several grievances they had with the company. For one, when the strike began, employees had been working for Big Red without a contract for 10 months. In addition, they accused the company of wanting to shift to low-wage contractors, move their jobs overseas, shut down call centers, and send technicians on assignments away from home that would take months to complete.
During the 44-day strike, Verizon replaced striking employees with non-union workers. Not everything was peachy for the company during this period, as it reported 57 incidents of vandalism in seven states during the first two weeks of the strike. These incidents included the cutting of fiber optic cables and damaging of terminal boxes. At the time, Verizon’s statement on the matter seemed to imply that employees on strike were the culprits.