Close to 40,000 Verizon workers are ready to return to work on Wednesday, ending a seven-week-long strike that was one of the largest in recent United States history.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) unions, who represented workers in the strike, came to an agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. to create 1,300 new call center jobs and raise wages by as much as 11 percent over four years. It will also include changes to reduce the cost of health care for Verizon.
Though the pact still needs to be voted on and approved by union workers — which Verizon's Corporate Communications Executive Director John Johnson told A Plus will happen on June 17 — it's already being celebrated as a resounding success for working class Americans.
"This contract is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people," Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of Americans, said in a statement. "It proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and advance the interests of America's working people."
Unions had gone on strike after Verizon threatened to freeze pensions and persisted in the use of contract workers. Now, on top of wage and job increases, workers will be receiving $1,250 in signing bonuses, healthcare reimbursements, and small increases in pensions.
New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. told The Associated Press the deal was good for both workers and Verizon, who will be saving by adopting private health insurance contracted with the government's Medicare program.
"The tentative agreements reached today are good for our employees, good for our customers and will be good for our business," Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer said in a statement sent to A Plus. "The new contracts will help ensure that Verizon employees continue to receive solid wages and excellent healthcare and retirement benefits."
If agreed upon, the new contract will expire August 3, 2019.
A Plus has reached out to both CWA and IBEW for comment.
Cover photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com.