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Verizon, unions sign peace accord

Chicago, Sept. 5 (Reuters): The largest US telephone company, Verizon Communications Inc, and two unions representing about 35 per cent of its work force said on Thursday they have reached new tentative labour contracts.

The five-year contracts would boost wages, but also save the company about $500 million in health care costs, according to the company and the two unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

"The agreement preserves the existing contract provisions protecting workers against layoffs and against the transfer of their work out of communities in the region key issues for union members," said CWA in a statement.

New York-based Verizon said the agreements would allow it to control costs as well as provide greater stability for its employees because of the length of the terms.

"It achieves a creative solution to all major economic issues so that employees continue to receive industry-leading benefits and wages, and Verizon can better control its costs, especially when compared with past contracts," Lawrence Babbio, Verizon vice chairman and president, said in a statement.

Verizon Communications shares closed up 40 cents at $36.65 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The current contracts cover almost 79,000 employees.

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