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Verizon ordered to rehire with back pay

The telecommunications company must rehire and hand seven months of back pay over to 2,312 New York-based employees laid off in December, an arbitrator has ruled.

Verizon Communications must rehire and pay seven months of back wages to 2,312 New York-area employees laid off in December, an arbitrator has ordered.

Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, said Friday that it was "disappointed" with the ruling but would begin to comply.

Arbitrator Shyam Das' decision ends a contract dispute between Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union representing Verizon employees.

Verizon can lay off employees but only under certain circumstances, according to its union contracts. The CWA said these conditions didn't exist in December, when Verizon laid off 3,441 workers. Das' decision reinstated 2,312 New York-based employees. The 1,129 employees laid off in other states are pending arbitration.

"The decision is very welcome news for thousands of workers and their families," the CWA said in a statement.

Verizon argued the layoffs were the result of a tough economy, increasing competition, plus "adverse regulatory rulings and structural changes in the telecom industry." An arbitration ruling won't make the conditions disappear, the carrier said. "The difficult business conditions facing the company--the same conditions that caused the layoffs--all remain," Verizon said in the statement.