Business & Finance

A union negotiator advised 13,000 United Air Lines mechanics to pack their tool boxes after Sunday's shift, saying "it is time to prepare for withdrawing our services." Contract talks between the Chicago-based carrier and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were to continue for a fourth straight day Monday; the strike deadline is tomorrow. Both sides have said they are committed to reaching an agreement. A walkout could mean the end for the financially struggling airline.

Sprint PCS plans to close five of its 13 customer service centers by the end of June, cutting 3,000 jobs, a company spokeswoman announced Friday. That's on top of the 6,000 employees and 1,500 contractors the company laid off in recent months. Slated for closure are centers in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Fla.; Lawrence, Kan.; Irvine, Calif.; and Atlanta. Sprint said it would take a charge of $25 million against first-quarter earnings due to the closings, which are expected to save $60 million annually.

By a margin of 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent, shareholders in P&O Princess Cruises voted to adjourn the meeting in London late last week at which they were to decide on merging with rival Royal Caribbean. The move gave industry leader Carnival the opening it sought to apply further pressure on P&O Princess stockholders to bow to its $5.4 billion hostile takeover offer. Royal Caribbean, which, like Carnival, is based in Miami, expressed "disappointment" over the P&O Princess meeting but was not immediately expected to walk away from the proposed merger. Doing so before Nov. 16 would result in a breakup penalty of $62.5 million.

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