Federal Mediator Notes ‘Progress’ in Verizon-Union Talks

**Editor’s Note: What’s at stake? Click here for our breakdown of the pertinent issues that first separated the company and the union when workers hit the picket lines last year.**

Negotiations between Verizon Communications and two unions over contracts governing 45,000 workers are progressing, according to the head of a federal agency serving as the mediator.

Verizon and the unions  the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers  have been in continuous negotiations for the past 10 days.

The talks “have been constructive and progress has been made,” Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cowen said in a statement Friday, “but significant key issues remain to be resolved.”

Cowen said the negotiations will resume Monday at the FMCS’ offices. No further details were revealed.

Verizon last month agreed to mediation in the contract negotiations after initially rejecting the request for it from the unions.

The unions collectively represent roughly 45,000 wireline workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Workers last summer went on strike, then returned to their jobs despite failing to reach a new agreement on a contract that expired on Aug. 7, 2011.

At stake: pensions, health-care benefits, work rules and many other terms impacting workers’ rights.  

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