Business & Finance

It is too soon to declare whether appeals of Friday's major ruling in the Microsoft antitrust case will be filed, attorneys general of the nine states concerned said. In a decision announced after East Coast financial markets closed for the weekend, federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington approved almost all of the software giant's agreement with the Justice Department, whose terms are more lenient than the litigants sought. Among other provisions, they compel Microsoft to disclose some technical information on its products to competitors. But they impose no financial penalties. Competing companies took the announcement hard, with one industry source calling it "a systematic failure of the legal system." (Editorial, page 10.)

Shipping companies involved in the labor dispute at West Coast ports and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union reached a breakthrough on the main sticking point in their bitter contract negotiations. The deal, announced Friday, calls for the union to yield to the shippers' demand to computerize all container records. Currently, those are typewritten by hundreds of unionized clerks, slowing the movement of cargo. In exchange for the loss of those jobs, the shippers agreed that new positions made necessary by the technology be under the ILWU's jurisdiction. But both sides acknowledged that the deal would be moot if they can't agree on other issues, such as pension terms and arbitration of future disputes.

Troubled United Airlines won tentative agreement from one of its employee unions to help qualify for a guaranteed federal loan of $1.8 billion. Late Friday, the master council of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) OK'd a plan for pay cuts and other givebacks over 5-1/2 years to help the carrier achieve the $5.8 billion in labor costs it seeks. Rank-and-file union members must vote on whether to ratify the agreement within 30 days. The ALPA is the first of United's unions to agree to the economy moves.

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