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(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report

inched closer to resolving a labor dispute that threatened to disrupt its operations this month.

The company said Tuesday afternoon that talks with its unions have "established a framework" for addressing major issues. Thousands of Verizon workers were poised to go on strike over the weekend as their contracts expired, but employees have stayed on the job as negotiations continued.

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Verizon didn't say it had reached a settlement with the unions. But the New York phone giant's statement indicated that negotiators were "finalizing many of the documents that will be part of the comprehensive agreement." The company and the unions, which represent 80,000 workers from Maine to Virginia, have clashed on job security and health care costs, among other issues.

A settlement would erase a major question mark hanging over Verizon, which has been hit hard in past labor disputes by strikes. In after-hours trading, Verizon shares added 70 cents to $35.75.