Thirty-five thousand workers returned to their jobs after labor representatives reached agreement with Verizon Communications, ending an 18-day strike. The move came days after 50,000 telephone operators of a separate union organization settled their contracts with the nation's largest local phone company. Both groups of union workers won a wage increase and reductions in mandatory overtime under the tentative agreement, and will have the opportunity to organize in the company's largely nonunion wireless division. Verizon estimated it will take a month to process the 260,000 customer service requests that have accumu-lated since the strike began Aug. 6.
In what analysts called a mix of his roles as vice president and presidential candidate, Al Gore met with Mexico's President-elect Vicente Fox, who spent the previous day visiting Mexican community leaders in New York. The two were expected to discuss Fox's proposal to further open the US-Mexican border. After meetings with President Clinton and other administration officials, Fox was later scheduled to speak with Gore's Republican rival, George W. Bush, today in Dallas.
About 200,000 indigenous Hawaiians could benefit from a federal plan that recommends they be given the same special status held by most American Indians. Submitted by Interior and Justice Department officials, the proposal would give native Hawaiians greater control over their lands and cultural resources and help protect 180 federally funded social programs. Hawaiian leaders argued a Supreme Court decision allowing non-Hawaiians to vote for members of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs cast doubt on the notion that native Hawaiians are entitled to special privileges.
Gov. Marc Racicot (R) closed more land in Montana, as wildfires there blazed across 630,000 acres. The 19.6 million acres now off-limits for recreation in the state equal an area roughly the size of Maine. The governor's order banned hiking, camping, and fishing on public land mostly in western Montana, though exceptions were in place for specific recreation areas, including Glacier National Park.
Officials lifted a mandatory evacuation order for all visitors in the Florida Keys as storm Debby weakened and began heading south of Cuba. Forecasters believed Debby could dissipate entirely as it swept past Cuba but might regain strength later, posing a threat to areas on the Gulf of Mexico.
With an estimated audience of 51 million, the reality-based television series "Survivor" concluded its first season, crowning a $1 million champion. Richard Hatch, a corporate trainer from Newport, R.I., won the final 4-to-3 vote handed down by a jury of seven former participants. Analysts said the two-hour finale drew the largest television audience this year, except for the Super Bowl. The series followed 16 men and women on a Borneo island as they competed to avoid being voted out by their fellow contestants.
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