Washington–The Communications Workers of America reported that 150 employees of Verizon in the western North Carolina area ratified a new contract last night to end a 12-week strike.

Workers are expected to return to their jobs on Monday, August 11. The 3-year settlement calls for a wage increase of 12 percent, a pension boost of 4 percent, and improvements in health care and other benefits and job conditions, reported CWA Vice President James Smith, head of the union’s District 3.

The District covers the southern states. Among key strike issues, the union workers were able to retain their emergency family medical leave provision, which now allows up to 24 hours of paid leave per year, limited to 8 occurrences, to take family members to and from hospitals when they are admitted. Short-term disability provisions also were preserved for current employees — another strike issue.

New hires would have the standard coverage provided by other Verizon contracts. CWA Local 3673 members also cited burdensome levels of forced overtime when they struck the company on May 19.

The new settlement calls for a joint task force to study overtime levels and make recommendations to remedy workers’ complaints. Among major improvements, the settlement now extends the same health care coverage used in the preferred provider network to members in areas where the network is not available.

“This is a big issue here in these small towns because a lot of our members would have to travel very long distances to get treatment from a doctor who is part of the network,” said Local President Tommy Pool.