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Pilots at American ratify pact

American Airlines pilots approved their first new contract in more than nine years, helping the carrier secure $1.06 billion in annual labor-cost cuts as parent AMR Corp. restructures in bankruptcy.

The accord was approved by 74 percent of those voting, the Allied Pilots Association told members Friday. The six-year contract will give pilots a stake of 13.5 percent in the post- bankruptcy company and annual pay raises while freezing their pension and requiring longer hours.

Pilots are the last work group to accept pay, benefit and work-rule changes, a step toward AMR’s completion of its reorganization plan. Creditors have been awaiting a resolution on labor costs to allow a comparison of the Fort Worth, Texas, carrier’s stand-alone plan for leaving bankruptcy with a merger bid by US Airways Group Inc.

The airline’s 8,000 pilots rejected a previous tentative agreement, prompting American to throw out the existing contract and impose changes.

IBM draws criticism for change to 401(k)

IBM, the largest computer-services provider, drew fire from a worker organization for a change to its 401(k) retirement plan that cuts company contributions to once a year.

The company will switch from matching employee contributions to their 401(k) plans twice a month to every Dec. 15, a move that “shortchanges IBM employees,” AllianceIBM said on its website. While the amount that employees receive isn’t changing, workers who leave or are fired before Dec. 15 won’t get their payment for the year.

IBM said the change was made to help keep the company competitive. The move may set a precedent for companies looking for savings in employee benefits, a retirement industry expert said.

Cisco strives to be tops for customers

Cisco isn’t content to be the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear. It says it wants to become the No. 1 supplier of information technology to big businesses by broadening its services and software.

But when Cisco Systems Inc. says “No. 1 IT company,” it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the biggest-selling company. That goal is out of reach, because IBM Corp. outsells Cisco 2-to-1. Rather, Cisco CEO John Chambers wants Cisco to loom largest in the minds of its customers.

The strategy statement, articulated Friday at a presentation for Wall Street analysts, follows some lean years that have seen Cisco retrench from even broader goals, including trying to establish itself as a consumer brand.

Nitrogen plant taps downstate home

A businessman has picked a southern Indiana site for a nitrogen fertilizer plant that’s projected to cost about $950 million to build. Ohio Valley Resources president Doug Wilson of Fairfield, Ill., says he picked the 150-acre site near the Ohio River town of Rockport.

Wilson tells the Evansville Courier & Press that two nearby interstate natural gas pipelines will reduce the cost of obtaining the gas needed for nitrogen production. Construction is expected to take three years, with completion expected in 2016.

About 80 people are expected work at the plant after production starts. Wilson tells The Indianapolis Star he’s still completing financing for the project. Wilson says this is his first industrial project after working as an independent trader for 16 years at the Chicago Board of Trade.