Striking Verizon Workers Win Big Gains in New Agreement

Almost 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike on April the 13th, demanding that the telecommunications giant stop outsourcing unionized jobs, withdraw proposed cuts to benefits and provide all workers with a contract.

One analyst called the deal "very rich" for workers at Verizon, the No. 1 USA wireless provider, which reached the tentative pact with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) on Friday.

However, a new tentative deal will give almost 11 percent raises over a four-year period, and it will create about 1,300 new call-center jobs.

Another issue that was resolved was Verizon's ability to outsource work.

The plan also proposes health care plan changes to save the company money.

Workers have been without a contract since their agreement expired last August and without healthcare coverage since May the 1st.

"Several major contracting initiatives will be reversed, sustaining work for union members in their communities and returning a significant amount of pole maintenance work to the unionized workforce in New York State", union leaders stated on Monday.

Their grievances included being assigned to jobs that kept them away from home for up to two months, call centre closures, and the outsourcing of jobs to non-union contractors and overseas companies.

"I am extremely relieved that we have a good contract from what I am reading", Fitzgerald Boyce, a Verizon field technician who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., told Reuters.

Verizon praised the agreement as a positive outcome for all concerned.

Terms include $1,250 in bonuses and annual raises for the next four years, as well as some profit sharing from the company.

"Our children and our families have been depending on us to stand up for what's right and what's fair", said Fitzgerald Boyce, a Verizon field technician based in NY. According to the New York Times Verizon believes its new commitment to create 1,000 unionized call center jobs over the next few years will help the company's bottom line by decreasing the frequency of transfer calls.

The company made a handful of concessions - a 10.5 percent wage increase over four years, additional hirings and more job security - in order to get striking wireline workers back to work Wednesday.

The strike, one of the largest in recent years in the United States, had drawn the support of Democratic U.S. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The unions were concerned that Verizon was trying to freeze pensions, pave the way for layoffs, and raise healthcare costs. The new negotiations are putting to rest a labor strike that lasted close to seven weeks, much to the relief of the carrier's channel partners.



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