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Delta may avert strike with plan

Delta Air Lines Inc. and its pilots union have reached a tentative agreement on pay and benefit cuts that could avert a strike, according to a memo Friday from the union to its pilots.

No details of the agreement were released.

The pilots union had threatened to strike if its contract was thrown out. Delta, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September, has said in court papers that a pilot strike would put it out of business.

The deal on long-term pay and benefit cuts must be ratified by the airline's 5,930 pilots.

Pilots marched near the company's headquarters by the hundreds Wednesday, protesting what they said was corporate greed in attempts to void their contract and impose pay cuts.

Delta's mainline carrier operates 1,722 daily flights and had more than 118 million passengers last year. The company is seeking to reduce corporate overhead costs by $200 million annually.

Ford announces

more plant closures

Ford Motor Co. announced that it will close assembly plants in Norfolk, Va., and St. Paul, Minn., in 2008.

The two plants employ about 4,300 hourly and salaried workers.

The nation's second-biggest automaker announced in January that it would close 14 plants by 2012, but only identified five of them.

The Twin Cities assembly plant in St. Paul makes the Ford Ranger compact pickup, which has seen sales decline sharply in recent years. It employs about 1,750 hourly workers and 135 salaried. The Norfolk facility makes the popular F-150 pickup. It has 2,275 hourly workers and 158 salaried.

The five plants whose closure Ford announced earlier are the St. Louis, Atlanta and Wixom, Mich., assembly plants, Batavia Transmission in Ohio, and Windsor Casting in Ontario.

Oil prices rise

Oil prices rose above $69 a barrel Tuesday amid concerns that Iran's nuclear standoff and violence in Nigeria could hurt supplies.

Prices were also pushed higher by expectations of a further draw on gasoline stocks ahead of the U.S. summer driving season. Such worries overrode expectations that the weekly snapshot of U.S. inventory data on Wednesday will show crude-oil stocks climbing an average of 1.2 million barrels from last week.

FCC: Cable family tiers problematic

In a sign the cable industry may face additional pressure over decency issues, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday there are "legitimate concerns" over the viability of family-friendly programming tiers cable operators have proposed.

Cable companies said in recent months they would offer G-rated packages of programming after FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said last fall that he wanted the cable industry to do more to address parental concerns about raunchy shows.

Enron chief testifies

Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling testified in his fraud and conspiracy trial Tuesday that he didn't spearhead a conspiracy to lie about the company's strength and that prosecution witnesses lied when they said he was part of any such scheme.

- From wire reports