Verizon Communications Inc. has reached tentative agreements on contracts covering 45,000 of its employees, union leaders said Wednesday.
The deals reached with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers would provide a total of 8 percent in pay increases over four years, require workers to chip in more for their health coverage and create a two-tier pension system, The New York Times reported. Rank-and-file members -- Verizon's field technicians, call center workers and cable installers -- are expected to vote on the contracts, which are retroactive to Aug. 1, 2011, and run to Aug. 1, 2015, in the coming weeks, the newspaper said.
The two sides had been negotiating for 16 months. At one point, workers went on strike for two weeks as Verizon pressed its demands for concessions.
On the pension issue, current employees will keep their dedicated pensions while new hires would have 401(k) accounts to which Verizon will make matching contributions.
Covered workers are to receive $800 ratification bonuses.
The CWA said in a release about 34,000 of its members are covered by the tentative contracts.
"We stood up to the most sweeping and intensive attack on our standard of living and bargaining rights in the history of the telecommunications industry," said Chris Shelton, vice president for CWA District One in the Northeast. "The unity and determination of 34,000 CWA members since bargaining began in June 2011 has produced a new agreement that preserves intact our members' pension and job security, provides for a substantial wage increase, and preserves a high-quality health plan."
The Times said Marc C. Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, called the settlement a "fair and balanced" one "that is good for our employees as well as for the future of the wireline business."
"It provides competitive wages, valuable benefits and affordable quality healthcare while giving the company new flexibility to better serve customers and become more efficient," he said.