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Nation: Labor

AK Steel reaches Ohio agreement

AK Steel Holding Corp. said yesterday it has reached a tentative settlement with union workers at its Middletown Works plant in Ohio, ending a year-old lockout fought over the steelmaker's demands for lower labor costs. Leaders of the Machinists union weren't immediately available for comment on the deal, which comes on the lockout's anniversary. The company has continued to operate the mill with replacement workers and salaried employees, and union membership has dwindled from about 2,700 a year ago to just over 1,700 because of retirements and resignations. The proposed contract must be ratified by members of Local Lodge 1943 of the International Association of Machinists, who twice last year voted to reject company offers.

AFL-CIO targets Wal-Mart pay policy

The AFL-CIO is stepping up its campaign to give shareholders more say over the pay of top executives. Its biggest target: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The largest U.S. labor federation is asking the New York Stock Exchange to investigate whether Wal-Mart violated its own corporate-governance rules by giving management, rather than a compensation committee, a role in choosing a consultant to determine the pay of the company's leadership. The letter to the stock exchange is the latest salvo in the AFL-CIO's fight to rein in executive pay by leveraging the power of the $400 billion its union members have invested in pension funds. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has pressed Congress to take action to curb excessive executive pay, urging lawmakers to close pay loopholes and enact policies that address wealth inequalities in the current tax system.


IBM work force up 8%, mostly in India

The work force at International Business Machines Corp. grew 8 percent in 2006, with most of the rise coming in India, where Big Blue has been on a hiring binge, the company said in its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. IBM noted that at the end of 2006 it employed 355,766 people, up from 329,373 one year earlier. Its base in India was 52,000 people - up from 36,000 one year earlier.


194 workers accept UPS buyout offer

UPS Inc. said yesterday that 194 employees have accepted voluntary buyout offers. The buyouts will result in costs of $80 million in the first quarter, UPS said.


Vanguard opposes Hewlett-Packard idea

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s sixth largest shareholder said yesterday that it opposed a proposal floated in the wake of the company's boardroom spying scandal that would allow shareholders to nominate candidates for the company's board of directors. The Vanguard Group Inc. - which held 72.4 million shares, or 2.68 percent, of HP's common shares outstanding at the end of 2006, according to Thomson Financial - said shareholders have the right to a "meaningful, proportional" say in determining the election of board members. Vanguard also said small shareholders should not be able to wage a proxy fight at largers shareholders' expense.


Goldman Sachs cuts Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's biggest bank, was cut from the lists of favorite European bank stocks at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. on concern market turbulence will hamper earnings growth. Goldman, which kept a "buy" recommendation on Frankfurt- based Deutsche Bank, dropped the stock from its "conviction buy list," according to a note yesterday from analysts led by Richard Ramsden in London. Merrill analysts led by Stuart Graham in London downgraded Deutsche Bank shares to "neutral" from "buy."

This column was compiled from dispatches by the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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