By Malathi Nayak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Unions representing nearly 40,000 Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N> workers ratified a new labor deal on Friday, the company said, ending a months-long dispute that had prompted a nearly 7-week employee strike.
The new contract, effective immediately, will run until Aug. 3, 2019, Verizon said in a statement. Last month, a tentative deal was reached that included 1,400 new jobs and pay raises topping 10 percent.
Since May 31, union members had been casting votes that were tallied by the unions.
Workers including network technicians and customer service representatives in Verizon’s Fios internet, telephone and television services units walked off the job on April 13 after contract talks reached an impasse. The action was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The previous contract expired in August, and healthcare coverage ran out at the end of April. Sticking points in contract negotiations had included job relocations, offshoring call-center jobs, pensions and healthcare coverage.
Employees resumed work on June 1 after the tentative deal was reached.
New York-based Verizon said it would add 1,300 call center jobs on the East Coast, and 100 new network technician jobs. It also agreed to withdraw proposed cuts to pensions and accident and disability benefits.
The company won cost savings through changes in healthcare plans and limits on post-retirement health benefits.
The strike will hurt second-quarter earnings and potentially cost up to 7 cents per share, Verizon’s chief financial officer said earlier this month.
Verizon and the two striking unions were in contract discussions with the help of the U.S. Department of Labor. In mid-May, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez brought the parties back to the negotiating table.
The strike, one of the largest in recent years in the United States, drew support from Democratic U.S. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Diane Craft and Richard Chang)