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Tentative Agreement In Strike Negotiators For Kaiser, Unions Reword Contract; Vote Tuesday

A strike by the 3,000 United Steelworkers of America - 2,000 in Spokane - ended its fifth day with a tentative agreement announced by Kaiser and Steelworkers representatives after midnight Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Union members will vote on the new contract language Tuesday.

The agreement makes adjustments in spousal health-care benefits, signing bonuses and the `letter of understanding’ - the most contentious issue.

Kaiser workers struck Monday in large measure because the proposed new `letter of understanding’ might have meant loss of jobs at Mead.

Friday, in a separate agreement, the company and union had agreed to limit picket numbers at Mead and the Trentwood rolling mill to 25 during the day, 12 at night.

That agreement, according to a cover letter by union attorney Steven Crumb, was signed to avoid a potential court order against the pickets sought by Kaiser.

The pact also bars pickets from blocking traffic into the plants, obscuring driver vision or hitting trucks with signs, and stone-throwing. “We had obvious illegal activity ongoing day and night,” she said. “Emotions appear to have cooled.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Wiyrick said he is meeting with union and company officials each morning to review the rules and assure compliance.

Deputies have been posted at plant gates as part of the agreement.

Steelworker pickets were joined Saturday by representatives of the Teamsters and Amalgamated Transit Union.

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