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reached a new contract with its main union, the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees.

The three-year deal calls for raises of 2.5%, 3.25% and 3.5%, effective Feb. 1, 2004, 2005 and 2006, the company said. The New York-based publisher said it would also make lump-sum payments to workers later this year, adding about $4 million in pretax expense in the second half of 2004.

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The tentative agreement also includes various health-care benefit changes, including, for the first time, employee-paid premiums, the company said. Who pays for health care benefits was a major issue in the dispute between the company and the union.

The tentative deal, which is still subject to union ratification, comes just weeks after reporters at the company's flagship

Wall Street Journal

staged a so-called byline strike by withholding their names from articles that were published on two days.

On Friday, Dow Jones shares were flat at $44.70.