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Dec. 8, 2012 at 3:43 PM
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Pilots ratify pact with American Airlines

CHICAGO, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Members of the Allied Pilots Association have approved a new labor contract with bankrupt American Airlines, airlines officials said.

The deal ratified Friday was approved by 74 percent of the pilots.

The pact, which includes pay raises, gives the union a 13.5 percent stake in the company but allows American to outsource flights to regional carriers and partners, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

The contract could clear the way for AMR, American's parent, to merge with US Airways.

"Today's ratification gives us the certainty we need for American to successfully restructure, providing opportunity and growth for all of our people and stakeholders," American Airlines Senior Vice President of People Denise Lynn said in a statement.

The pilots union was the last to reach a contract with American. Pilots had been flying without an agreement since 2006.

Union head: Boeing strike likely

SEATTLE, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The head of the engineering employees union at Boeing Co. says "there is a very high chance of a strike" in the new year, after suspension of contract talks.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen announced Wednesday talks between Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace were being suspended for the remainder of 2012, at the request of a mediator, for a cooling off period.

"In the interim, the FMCS will be in discussion with the parties to schedule resumption of negotiations," Cohen said in a statement.

SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth said the union has been preparing for a strike, and could fund a 60-day strike -- longer, if necessary -- The Seattle Times reported Saturday.

"I think there is a very high chance of a strike," Goforth said.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the union's "rhetoric is not doing anybody any good," the newspaper said.

The company has offered raises of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent each year for four years but the union is pushing for 6 percent a year for three years. Boeing is proposing increases in the employee contributions to healthcare coverage that the union says would increases employee's costs by 12 percent.

In addition, Boeing proposes to keep new hires out of its pension system in favor of 401(k) plans. The union rejects that, saying it would reduce retirement benefits 40 percent.

Report: AIG selling aircraft-leasing arm

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- American International Group Inc. said it is in talks to sell a 90 percent stake in its aircraft-leasing unit to a group of Chinese investors.

The insurance giant, based in New York, said in a statement Friday talks were under way on the possible sale of International Lease Finance Corp., based in Los Angeles.

The statement said AIG "has consistently stated that ILFC is a non-core asset."

AIG has been trying to find a buyer for ILFC since 2008, when it was temporarily placed under the control of the U.S. government during the financial meltdown, the Los Angeles Times reported.

ILFC -- one of the largest aircraft leasing firms in the world -- owns 925 aircraft and leases planes to most major airlines, the newspaper said.

"Any possible transaction involving ILFC would be subject to required regulatory approvals, including those in the U.S. and China, and customary closing conditions," the statement said.

In its most recent SEC filing, ILFC reported $339.7 million in net income from January to September. The company reported a $736.4 million loss during the same period of 2011.

AIG said it was in talks with a group of potential buyers that included New China Trust Co., New China Life Insurance Co. and P3 Investments Ltd., as well as China Aviation Industrial Fund.

Supreme Court to take drug pricing case

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said it will rule in a case involving payments by pharmaceutical companies to rivals in return for delaying sales of generic drugs.

The Federal Trade Commission says the so-called pay-for-delay deals violate antitrust law, preserve monopolies and artificially jack up prices, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.

The commission said 28 such agreements cost consumers and taxpayers at least $3.5 billion in 2011, the newspaper reported.

"When drug companies agree not to compete, consumers lose," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

Federal courts have upheld such deals in a number of cases, finding they constitute settlements of patent disputes.

The Supreme Court said Friday it would consider a case involving an agreement in which Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc., which makes the testosterone booster AndroGel, agreed to pay Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. more than $19 million a year in return for Watson's agreement to hold a competitive drug off the market until 2015.

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