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Labor Secretary: Tentative deal reached to end Verizon strike

An agreement in principle has been reached to end the six-week strike by 39,000 Verizon Communications workers, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said Friday.

The accord on a four-year contract follows 13 days of negotiations at the Department of Labor between the two unions representing landline workers and the nation's largest wireless carrier.

"This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining," Perez said in a statement. "I expect that workers will be back on the job next week."

The walkout, which began April 13, involves members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in 10 states on the East Coast.

In a statement, IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson called the tentative contract "an important step forward," and said the union would be sharing the details with its members for approval in days ahead.

CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson confirmed an agreement in principle, with the union in a statement touting the accord as adding "new, middle-class jobs at Verizon" and for achieving a first contract for wireless retail store workers.

Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, said the tentative pact "is consistent with our objective of creating high quality American jobs and achieving meaningful changes and enhancements to the contracts that will better enable our wireline business unit to compete and succeed in the digital world."

"We also reached an 'agreement in principle' on contracts for about 165 Verizon Wireless employees," he added.

Details of the accord were not released. Verizon wanted union employees to pay a greater portion for health insurance, while the unions were looking to keep pension increases and prevent jobs from being transferred offshore.

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