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Verizon Workers Going Back To Work, Without Deal

Thousands of Verizon workers will return to work Tuesday, though their contract dispute isn't over yet.

After a nearly two-week strike, the 45,000 landline workers agreed to return to work under the terms of their recently expired contract. For now, the two sides say they have narrowed their disagreements and have agreed on a structure for the negotiations.

"The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed," the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said in a statement.

Among the issues in dispute is the company's move to freeze pensions and its demand that workers contribute to their health insurance premiums. The company argues that it has to reduce benefits as the landline business deteriorates.

The unions say the company is profitable and can afford to maintain the benefits.

Paul Feeney of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222 calls the strike successful in making the company look more seriously at protecting jobs.

"We feel that the pressure was mounting on the company and the troubles were starting to add up," Feeney said. "And they weren't able to get the job done with the management and replacement workforce that they had out in the field."

Despite the compromise, tough issues still remain on the table, according to Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro.

"How do you operate a declining wireline business in 2011? A lot of the provisions in the old contracts were created at a time when Verizon was a monopoly," Santoro said.

With reporting from The Associated Press and the the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on August 20, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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