- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Verizon and unions representing 43,000 employees reached tentative, three-year agreements on Wednesday, covering job security, retirement and other issues.

Verizon Communications Inc. called the agreements “fair and balanced.”

The employees, who work in Verizon’s landline division, must now vote on the contract. If approved, it will run through Aug. 1, 2015.

The pact comes more than a year after Verizon workers took part in a two-week strike amid tense negotiations. The two sides had disagreed on health care benefits, pensions, and work rules.

Verizon and the unions _ the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers _ entered mediation in late July after direct negotiations came to a standstill.

CWA, which represents 34,000 Verizon workers from Virginia to Massachusetts, said the previous contract expired in August 2011. The union said the new contract preserves existing job security language prohibiting layoffs for those hired before 2003. It also preserves the pension plan for current workers and restricts the company’s right to reassign workers too far from their homes.

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