Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) said that 45,000 wireline workers who have been on strike across the Northeast since August 7 will return to work on Monday night, August 22, without new collective bargaining agreements.

However, the company said it has made “headway in negotiating a number of local and regional issues,” and that two sides “have agreed on a process for moving forward to negotiate the major issues regarding benefits, cost structure, work flexibility and job security.”

The striking laborers will be working under terms of the previous contract which has expired on August 6.

“The contracts will be extended with no specific deadline for achieving new collective bargaining agreements so that the parties can take the time required to resolve the critical issues,” the company said in a statement.

We agreed to end the strike because we believe that is in the best interest of our customers and our employees. We remain committed to our objectives, and we look forward to negotiating the important issues that are integral to the future health of Verizon's wireline business, said Marc Reed, Verizon's executive vice president of human resources in a statement.

He added: We are grateful to our management team for their leadership during the past 14 days in so ably meeting the needs of our customers. The team's competence, dedication and hard work enabled us to withstand the strike without significant disruption to customer service, and to convince the unions to begin bargaining with us in good faith. The fortitude and efforts of our managers have proven to be our strongest point of leverage in bargaining. We are pleased that during this stressful economic period our union-represented employees will be back at work earning good wages and benefits while serving our customers.

The two unions representing the strikers. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) issued the following statement:

“We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed. We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.”