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Company News: Strike planned at Montana platinum mine

The Spokesman-Review

BILLINGS – About 900 employees from the nation’s only platinum mining operation will strike this morning after two months of negotiations failed to produce a new labor contract, Stillwater Mining Co. representatives said Tuesday.

The strike will hobble the Montana company’s platinum and palladium mine in Nye and its smelter and refinery complex in Columbus. Work will continue at the company’s smaller East Boulder mine where the labor contract has another year to run, Stillwater spokesman John Beaudry said.

The evening shift at the plant was canceled Tuesday. Talks between the two sides were scheduled to resume Thursday.

Workers from United Steelworkers International Local 11-0001 held a 10-day strike at the mine three years ago, over a disagreement on sick leave. That cost the company $2.5 million in administrative and settlement expenses, according to a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It also cost an estimated 25,000 ounces in lost platinum metals production, worth about $12 million at the time.

The two parties later agreed to a 3 percent annual salary increase for workers and contract renewal bonuses, the SEC report said.

NBC News said Tuesday it is creating its own in-house firm, Peacock Productions, to make nonfiction programming available to various cable networks.

It essentially expands upon the work being done by producers and correspondents at “Dateline NBC.” The broadcast’s executive producer, David Corvo, will be executive vice president of Peacock Productions.

Besides the newsmagazine, Peacock Productions is making several documentaries and series for MSNBC. It is also making series for ESPN, the History Channel and the Sundance Channel.

NBC’s long-form unit has made programming for the Sci-Fi channel, Court TV, Bravo, TLC, USA, Spike and VH1 in the past few years.

NBC News is a part of NBC Universal, which is owned by General Electric Co.

Southwest Airlines Co. is letting travelers buy their plane tickets with PayPal, the electronic-payment system owned by eBay Inc.

Southwest said Tuesday that customers buying tickets on its Web site can use debit and credit cards or bank accounts linked to their PayPal account.

Northwest Airlines Corp. announced a similar deal with PayPal last month.

PayPal was started in 1998 and purchased by eBay in 2002. It lets people send and receive payments electronically without disclosing financial information. Last year, PayPal processed more than $38 billion in payments.

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