Striking Verizon employees may be back to work next week after the company and its unions reached an agreement in principle for a four-year contract.

About 39,000 landline and cable employees in nine eastern states and Washington, D.C., have been on strike since April. They had been working without a contract since last August.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Friday that the agreement is being written and will be submitted for approval from union members of Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

"I expect that workers will be back on the job next week," Perez said in a statement.

Verizon and the unions have been negotiating at the Department of Labor for the past 13 days, Perez said.

New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. has about 177,000 employees.