Forty-five thousand employees represented by a pair of labor unions are headed back to work despite the fact no new contract has been ironed out with their employer, Verizon Communications.
The two sides say they made progress hashing out a number of regional and local issues, enough to take employees off the picket lines and put them back to work starting Monday night. Verizon says it has found enough common ground with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers when it comes to benefits, job security, cost structure and more, to continue negotiating. The employees will go back to work under the terms of their contract that expired on Aug. 6 and theres no specific deadline for establishing a new collective bargaining agreement. Both sides want to take time to hammer out further issues.
“We agreed to end the strike because we believe that is in the best interest of our customers and our employees,” said Marc Reed, Verizons executive vice president of human resources. We remain committed to our objectives, and we look forward to negotiating the important issues that are integral to the future health of Verizon’s wireline business.”
As both sides claim victory, it feels like a stalemate to some workers, like Jeff Rafos, a cable splicer, who told the Wall Street Journal, What was the point of all this? Why give up our paychecks just to start talks all over again?”
The temporary agreement, forged on Saturday, ends a two-week-long strike that forced Verizon to bring non-union workers from other states to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to fill the holes left by striking workers.
Union workers had criticized the company for failing to negotiate and wanting to gut healthcare,” among other things, while the company said the unions need to understand they cant enjoy all of the same benefits as its wireline business declines.
Verizon says its customers can expect any repair backlog or unfulfilled requests for service to be addressed quickly.