Shares of Bell Atlantic perked up despite the weak overall market Tuesday after the company said it reached a tentative settlement with its 73,000 striking workers.
Unionized employees, who walked out Sunday when the Communications Workers of America's contract expired, planned to return to work at their next scheduled shifts.
Bell Atlantic spokesman Eric Rabe said the company had reached a tentative, two-year agreement with its workers in a service area from Maine to Virginia, covering 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Bell Atlantic shares rose 9/16, or 1.4 percent, to 41 3/4 on Tuesday on the news.
The union said in a statement that its members gained greater access to jobs in company subsidiaries that develop new technologies.
"This settlement ensures that jobs of the future will be high-skill, good-paying jobs and that Bell Atlantic will have the competitive advantage of of a top-quality work force as it moves into the whole range of new information age ventures," CWA President Morton Bahr said in a statement.
Fahnestock & Co. telecom analyst Steve Wright said that Bell Atlantic, which is in a pending merger agreement to acquire GTE Corp. , faces more competition for local customers than most of the other regional Bell operators.
Telephone customers trying to reach directory assistance, pay bills or have phone lines installed or repaired experienced delays. To keep service running, managers had to handle tasks normally performed by union members.
The Communications Workers of America and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said the strike was precipitated by forced overtime and shifting work to nonunion employees.
Previously Bell Atlantic acquired sister "Baby Bell" Nynex.
Written By Steve Gelsi