Business & Finance

Labor givebacks benefiting American Airlines appeared in doubt once again, with union leaders representing its pilots, flight attendants, and ground workers reportedly meeting with their lawyers on yet-to-be signed agreements to keep the world's largest carrier out of bankruptcy. After their members last week voted to approve $1.8 billion in pay and benefits concessions, the three unions were angered by revelations of huge retention bonuses for seven executives at AMR Corp., American's parent, and a supplemental pension trust fund for senior managers. AMR has since scrapped the bonuses.

Construction industry giant Bechtel Corp. won a $680 million contract for repair and rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure. The award was the largest of its kind to date by the US Agency for International Development, which has said it expects to spend $1 billion on Iraq now that major fighting there appears to be over. Bechtel, of San Francisco, will dredge and make improvements to the port of Umm Qasr; repair schools, hospitals, and certain government buildings; and rebuild the nation's electricity grid, water-delivery and sewage systems, highways, bridges, and airports.

Succeeding where its rivals could not, US Steel appeared to be the winning bidder for bankrupt National Steel Corp. and will absorb most of the latter's assets, reports said. The deal was valued at $1.05 billion in cash and assumption of debt. Previously, a $1.1 billion bid by AK Steel Holding Corp. of Middletown, Ohio, was approved by a federal bankruptcy court. But AK Steel and National's unionized workers were unable to conclude a collective- bargaining agreement. In a statement last Thursday, the United Steelworkers of America accepted the buyout by US Steel even though it appeared certain to include heavy layoffs. National Steel is based in Mishawaka, Ind.; US Steel in Pittsburgh.

Dominion Virginia Power Co. agreed to spend $1.2 billion to upgrade pollution controls at eight plants in Virginia and West Virginia, and to pay a $5.3 million fine, in the largest federal settlement to date under provisions of the Clean Air Act. The settlement, due to be filed today in US district court, follows three years of negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency and pressure from the Justice Department and officials from five states that claim to have been adversely affected by pollution. Dominion, of Richmond. Va., is one of the nation's largest energy producers.

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