After about seven weeks of strike, nearly 40,000 of network technicians, repairmen, and call center employees working for Verizon Communications will get back to work on Wednesday.
The workers agreed to resume operations after the telecom giant yielded to their unions’ claims demanding higher pay and more job opportunities.
According to experts analyzing the tentative agreement, the deal is “very rich” for union members. According to the newly negotiated terms of the contract, Verizon agreed to open 1,400 new positions in the U.S. and hike wages by up to 10 percent.
Workers agreed to get back on job although the agreement still has tentative status. The newly negotiated contract is due in four years and details on it were disclosed Monday.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the two unions involved in negotiations with America’s largest wireless provider, originally demanded a pay rise of 10.9 percent for its members through 2020, but Verizon agreed only to a 10.5 percent hike.
One analyst noted that the agreement reinforces the company’s commitment to a decaying wireline business and it gives Verizon four years to get rid of the business by selling it. But not all experts agree on that.
Some experts underscored the fact that the biggest US wireless carrier has heavily invested in the fiber-optic business, which may suggest that the infrastructure may become pivotal for the entire business.
On April 13, 37,000 union members walked off their jobs in a move that is the largest U.S. strike in the last 5 years. The striking workers included technicians, repairmen, FiOS servicemen, and call center representatives.
Joshua B. Freeman, a worker rights specialist at Queens College in New York, noted that historically it is extremely rare for so many workers to stay on strike for so long and come out “with a pretty good contract.”
“These days, that is a very unusual thing, to see that kind of walkout,”
Verizon workers’ contract expired last August. In April, the workers lost their healthcare coverage as well. But surprisingly they were able to survive for about seven weeks. Last time they went on a strike it was in April 2011 when they walked off their jobs for two straight weeks.
In the meantime, Verizon resorted to shadow workforce to fill in the empty positions. According to a report, thousands of accountants, lawyers, managers, and other non-union workers with basic technical skills did the striking workers’ jobs.
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