Unionized Verizon workers put an end to an almost two-month long labor dispute Friday by overwhelmingly agreeing to a new labor contract.
Verizon officials reached the proposed contract May 27, putting a tentative end to a 45-day strike involving nearly 40,000 of its employees. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) launched the strike April 13 following troubled labor negotiations. The worker vote solidifies the contract, putting an official end to the dispute.
“The ratification of these hard-won contracts cements an incredible victory for the nearly 40,000 courageous workers who put everything on the line to protect the good jobs for their families and for all American families,” CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said in a statement. “When working people come together as a union, we can make a difference in improving wages and providing stability for families.”
Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez even had to intervene in the dispute when it became clear the two sides were at an impasse. They agreed to resume negotiations May 15. Workers will get a 10.9 percent raise over the next four years and outsourcing protections among other benefits. The contract also includes a guarantee that call centers in the mid-Atlantic region at risk of closing will remain open.
Verizon made a previous 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 warned that without such protections, call centers and other jobs could be outsourced oversees.
The strike involved many stores and company-owned facilities and garnered national attention — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders even denounced Verizon for corporate greed on numerous occasions. Verizon President Lowell McAdam countered the claim as not truthful.
The labor dispute has garnered sympathy from 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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