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Massive Verizon Strike Prompts Federal Intervention

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Verizon and the Communications Workers of America agreed Sunday to resume negotiations after meeting with federal officials about their ongoing strike.

Unionized Verizon workers have been on strike since April 13 to demand better wages and benefits. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez met with company executives and union officials Sunday in the hopes of resolving the dispute. Union President Chris Shelton and Verizon President Lowell McAdam agreed during the meeting to resume talks Tuesday.

“I am heartened by the parties’ mutual commitment to get back to immediate discussions and work toward a new contract,” Perez said in a statement. “I was singularly impressed by the parties’ appreciation that time is of the essence, and their strong commitment to use the collective bargaining process to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.”

Perez made the decision to intervene when it became clear the strike was increasingly becoming more tense. Verizon accused striking workers Apr. 22 of vandalizing company property, reports the Pittsburgh affiliate of CBS. Striking workers in the Philippians have also accused the company May 11 of chasing them with armed guards, reports Fortune.

“Our Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam met today with Secretary Perez and others, as noted,” a Verizon representative told Broadcasting & Cable. “We will attend the next meeting in Washington on Tuesday.”

Verizon made its final contract offer April 28 but it was rejected by unionized workers. The contract would have included a 7.5 percent increase in wages along with other benefits but unionized workers rejected it over a lack of overtime and outsourcing protections. Unionized workers warn without such protections call centers and other jobs could be outsourced oversees.

The strike has included thousands of workers and has garnered national attention. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced Verizon for corporate greed on numerous occasions. McAdam has since argued the accusations are just not truthful.

The labor dispute has garnered sympathy from some other high-profile individuals. Senate Democrats have weighed in on the dispute with a letter urging Verizon to negotiate a fair deal. Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also condemned the company.

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