NEW YORK (AP) -- Striking Verizon workers plan to return to work on Monday evening, even though their contract dispute remains unresolved.
Verizon and unions representing its workers have agreed to narrow the issues in dispute and have agreed to a process to continue negotiations. Still, the two sides remain apart on touchy subjects such as health care benefits, pensions and work rules.
About 45,000 employees went on strike on Aug. 7, after their previous contract expired. They work in the company's landline division in nine states from Massachusetts to Virginia.
Verizon says that it needs to cut costs in the traditional landline phone business, which is in decline as more Americans switch to mobile phones. The company has proposed freezing its pension and switching union workers to its non-union health plan, which has higher costs for employees.
The unions counter that the landline business supports the growing wireless business and that Verizon, which earned about $3 billion in the first half of the year, can afford to maintain the benefits in the contract that expired on Aug. 6. They also say Verizon put too many proposals on the table.
Of the 45,000 striking workers, 35,000 are covered by the Communications Workers of America, while 10,000 are covered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Verizon, based in New York, has 196,000 workers, with 135,000 of those non-union. The wireless division, which wasn't affected by the strike, is mostly non-union.