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SBC, Union Reach Tentative Pact

A labor strike ends after four days with a new five-year deal.
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settled a dispute with its main union, reaching a tentative five-year deal that will give workers a 2.3% annual raise on average.

The San Antonio, Texas, phone giant said the deal, which covers 100,000 employees, "satisfies the needs of the company and the union." The agreement came at the end of a four-day strike. Workers in 13 states walked out Friday as negotiations stalled over the contract.

SBC said the deal helps it rein in health care costs. Workers won't need to make monthly contributions, but most co-payments will rise for drugs, doctor visits, emergency room services and other charges.

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The company and the Communications Workers of America agreed to provide current CWA-represented employees with a guaranteed job offer, should their existing jobs be eliminated. The guarantee won't be extended to new employees.

The settlement ends the regulated phone business's latest brush with labor strife. After the union threatened a strike, Bell peer


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reached a last-minute agreement in September that gave 79,000 members a 3% one-time payout and an 8% raise over five years.

On Tuesday, SBC shares fell 26 cents, to $23.93.