Dow Jones, Union Reach Tentative Deal

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(AP) Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Dow Jones Newswires, reached a tentative agreement on a contract with its main labor union after seven months of negotiations, the company announced Thursday.

The nearly three-year pact, which must be approved by the members and the board of the Independent Association of Publisher’s Employees Local 1096, would be in effect through January 2006. The employees had been working without a contract since May 1.

On the key issue of health care, Dow Jones agreed to make cash payments to union-represented employees to cover health insurance premiums throughout 2004. After that, employees would have the option of joining an insurance plan that has no premiums.

The talks had some rough patches. At one point, reporters at the Journal declined to make voluntary appearances on the cable network CNBC to protest the company’s position on health care benefits.

Under the deal, employees hired before April 30 would also receive signing bonuses of $1,000, and part-time employees $600. The contract also includes additional job security provisions.

The contract calls for a 2.5% general wage increase effective Feb. 1, and a 3.0% increase in February 2005.

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