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Verizon strikers back to work Wednesday

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WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett
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Workers picket outsdie Verizon Wireless store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga

It took the intervention of a U.S. Labor Department arbitrator, but after nearly seven weeks, Verizon workers are headed back to work.

A tentative agreement has been announced for the nearly 40,000 network technicians and customer service representatives of the company's Fios internet, telephone and television services units, who walked off the job on April 13. Communications Workers of America Local 1122 President James Wagner said the tentative agreement includes a fair, modest increase in wages and jobs.  He said there also is a ratification bonus and a commitment from the company about job security.

The CWA said Verizon agreed to provide a 10.9 percent raise over four years while Verizon put the increase at 10.5 percent. According to the CWA, both numbers are correct, with the union's calculation including compounded interest as subsequent raises are determined from a new base salary. About 1,400 new jobs are also included in the deal.

Wagner said he hopes the strike has helped turn a tide for all American workers. "I think that's been the flavor in the country, they have to go to work and do more with less and do more for less," he said.

"We used our voice and we stood up and pushed back against corporate America to let everybody in the working class  know that workers have a voice, they should use their voice and, when workers push back collectively, they can protect the interests of the worker," said Wagner.

Verizon workers will be back on the job Wednesday. Wagner said each bargaining unit has its own bylaws to ratify  agreements, but he expects voting to wrap up by June 19.

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