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  (Source: businessreviewusa.com)
The union workers will go back to work starting tonight for late shifts

It has been a little over two weeks since 45,000 Verizon wireline workers went on strike, but early Saturday morning, both sides agreed to continue bargaining on certain terms and union workers will now end the strike.

On August 7, 35,000 workers represented by the Communications Workers of America and 10,000 workers represented by The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who all work for Verizon's U.S. Northeast Wireline Unit, went on strike after Verizon decided to cut pensions, change work rules and make employees pay more for health care. Both sides were unable to reach an agreement by the time contracts expired.

Verizon was attempting to keep costs in check, since it has seen a decline in its wireline business over the past decade.

The strike has become problematic in past weeks. For instance, striking union workers turned to vandalism as a way of demonstrating their cause. According to Verizon, demonstrators have shut off the power, used crazy glue to jam fence and service truck locks and blocked entrances in Dover and Newark. In response, Verizon sued Communications Workers of America leaders in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Now, Verizon and union strikers have not reached an agreement regarding new contracts, but have agreed to extend the terms of the old one indefinitely while bargaining continues. The agreement came after Verizon announced that healthcare benefits would expire on August 31 for any union workers still on strike. These workers will go back to work starting tonight for late shifts.

According to Verizon, tens of thousands of Verizon managers were covering the positions of the union workers during the strike, where many were asked to work 12-hour days for six days per week. Verizon spokesman Richard Young said the management team helped the most in convincing the unions to bargain.

"The fortitude and efforts of our managers have proven to be our strongest point of leverage in bargaining," said Marc Reed, executive vice president of human resources for Verizon.

The Communications Workers of America were angered by Verizon's statements, saying that it shouldn't be claiming a victory for this bit of progress. The union even demanded a retraction.

"It is both inaccurate and insulting," said the Communications Workers of America in a statement. "We agreed with management not to claim victory in changing the process, reinstituting the contract or shaping our goals. We will be prepared to fight and fight hard whenever necessary if Verizon believes it can resume negotiations on that basis."

Verizon and the unions will now bargain on issues like employment security, pensions and healthcare contributions.

"We would say that this focus is much better than it was two weeks ago," said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America.




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