WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Verizon and union officials representing about 39,000 striking landline and cable workers in nine eastern states and Washington, D.C. agreed to restart negotiations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said he met with both sides on Sunday in Washington, D.C. and said they “had an open, frank and constructive dialogue about finding a comprehensive way forward.”

He said both sides agreed to return to the bargaining table on Tuesday to continue their discussions.

“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.

The two striking unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represent installers, customer service employees, repairmen and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., for Verizon’s wireline business, which provides fixed-line phone services and FiOS Internet service.

Workers walked off the job on April 13. They had been working without a contract since August.

The unions have said they’re striking because Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.

The telecom giant has said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown.

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