April 19, 2007 in Business

Microsoft agrees to settle class action for $180 million

The Spokesman-Review

Microsoft Corp. agreed Wednesday to pay Iowans up to $180 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had a monopoly that cost the state’s citizens millions of dollars extra for software products.

The $179.5 million settlement means individuals in Iowa who bought certain Microsoft products between 1994 and 2006 will be eligible for cash. Companies with multiple copies can seek vouchers that will enable them to buy computer equipment and software. The amount that can be claimed will depend on which product and how many copies were purchased during the 12-year period.

For each copy of Microsoft Windows or MS-DOS, customers can claim $16. Microsoft Excel is worth $25 a copy and Microsoft Office, $29.

For Word, Works and Home Essential software, consumers can claim $10 a copy, according to the agreement.

•Leaning on crutches, Kelli Hughes, a Boeing 737 captain for American Airlines, said she was so angry over bonuses for company executives that a broken heel wasn’t going to stop her from marching in a union protest.

“They said this was going to be ‘shared sacrifice, shared gain,”’ Hughes said, “but it’s not happening. We’re the only company that’s not giving back to the employees.”

Hughes and several hundred other American employees protested Wednesday against the company’s payment of stock to nearly 900 managers. The unions estimate the payments, based on Wednesday’s closing price of shares in parent AMR Corp., were worth $170 million.

Wednesday’s rally outside AMR headquarters was the latest in a series of events organized by unions to pressure the company for better pay — contract negotiations with pilots stared recently, and talks with ground workers and flight attendants are expected to begin by early next year.

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday that it reached a preliminary agreement to sell three glass plants as the auto maker looks to shed its unprofitable Automotive Components Holdings group.

Ford said it reached a “memorandum of understanding” with Glass Products for plants in Nashville, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; and its Vidriocar unit in Juarez, Mexico. Glass Products was formed by Robert Price, a private investor in Tulsa, Okla.

A final sale is contingent on reaching a new and competitive agreement with the United Auto Workers, as well as state and local government incentives.

ACH Glass operations employ about 1,600 and supplied glass for about 2.7 million vehicles last year.

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