P.M. BRIEFING : Detroit Papers Avert Strike

From Times Wire Services

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reached a tentative agreement with five unions early today, averting a strike during the first week of the newspapers' long-delayed business merger.

The agreement came after more than 11 hours of talks that began Monday night.

"Now we can go full speed ahead," said Robert J. Hall, publisher and chairman of the Free Press.

Joe Fundaro, interim secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 372, which represents 1,100 workers in the merged circulation department serving the two papers, said ratification meetings will be held Sunday.

Terms of the tentative contract were not immediately released.

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