As the Verizon strike moved into its second month, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez met with the leaders of the company and the unions in Washington.
"The best way to resolve this labor dispute is at the bargaining table, and I am heartened by the parties' mutual commitment to get back to immediate discussions and work toward a new contract," Perez said in a statement issued late Sunday.
Both sides' leaders committed to returning to the bargaining table Tuesday. As of last week, talks had slowed and no bargaining sessions had been scheduled, although the two sides said they were ready to negotiate.
Verizon management and its striking unions can't even agree on how many workers are involved in the walkout, which began April 13. The unions say 39,000 workers, from Massachusetts to Virginia, are on strike. The company puts the number at 36,000.
Attending Sunday's meeting were Lowell McAdam, Verizon Communications Inc. chairman and chief executive officer; Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America; and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Perez said that he "was singularly impressed by the parties' appreciation that time is of the essence, and their strong commitment to use the collective bargaining process to reach a mutually beneficial resolution."
As the company shifts its focus to mobile technology, the striking Verizon employees - call-center workers and repair technicians - primarily work in the company's "wired" business, involving copper and fiber-optic lines.
The repair technicians also construct and maintain the mobile infrastructure. Job security is the main issue confronting negotiators.