Verizon, unions agree on new deal

US giant Verizon Communications and two unions representing 65,000 workers who had threatened to strike within hours agreed on a new three-year contract that provides 10.5% wage increases and changes in retirement benefits, an Associated Press report said.

The pact, which must be ratified by union members, was hailed as a 'breakthrough agreement in many ways' by Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen, the report said.

The deal 'provides a framework for growth at Verizon and a good standard of living with careers for our members,' Cohen said.

It also extends union recognition to 600 former MCI technicians who had sought it since joining Verizon two years ago, the union said. Verizon said another 900 temporary employees would be regularized.

Verizon's EVP Marc C. Reed said the contract will allow the company to remain 'focused on delivering to our customers the best in broadband, communications and entertainment.'

No date was immediately set for union members to vote on the deal, which consists of many smaller contracts, the Associated Press report said.

The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had threatened to strike if no agreement was reached.