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Workers at Plum Island lab OK contract, ending strike

NEW YORK (AP) -- Maintenance workers at a highly sensitive government laboratory on Plum Island ratified a contract Saturday, ending a 3 1/2 -month strike, union officials said.

The 76 workers are expected to go back to work this week, said Marty Glennon, a lawyer for Local 30, International Union of Operating Engineers. Glennon didn't know by what margin the union had ratified the contract.

Workers walked out Aug. 13 in a dispute over wages, benefits and retroactive pay.

The company had offered the workers 3 percent annual raises for the next five years.

The union approved a contract that contained the same raise but eliminated a stipulation that would have allowed some replacement workers hired after the strike to stay on permanently, Glennon said.

The Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located on an 850-acre island off the eastern tip of Long Island, studies highly contagious animal viruses.

It will become part of the new Department of Homeland Security, effective June 1.

Homicide suspected in death of man found in gorge

TROY (AP) -- Police were investigating as a homicide the death of a man whose body was discovered in the Poestenkill Gorge on Thanksgiving.

Forensic specialists and firefighters used high-angle rescue gear to descend the 150- to 200-foot cliff Friday to remove the body.

"We are investigating it as a suspicious death and trying to find out who the man was," police Sgt. David Joslin said.

Police said it was likely the man, believed to be in his 20s, had been there for about two days.

No identification was found on the body, police said.

Joslin said the city has no records of missing persons fitting the man's description. Police were checking missing-persons reports from surrounding areas.

The gorge, 10 miles northeast of Albany, is located off a park with scenic overlook, trailheads and a small parking lot nearby. The area, frequented by sightseers, hikers and partiers, has been the scene of several accidental falls, some fatal.

Identifying WTC remains is a painstaking process

NEW YORK (AP) -- Forensic scientists in charge of identifying thousands of remains from the World Trade Center attack say the process is taking longer than anticipated because of their cautiousness in applying novel genetic-testing techniques, a published report said Saturday.

Robert Shaler, director of forensic biology in New York City's medical examiner's office, told the New York Times that he had expected the analysis of badly damaged genetic materials to begin in June or July.

But the much-awaited results of the pilot test are now not expected until mid-December.

The city is working with several companies on the task, which entails analyzing and identifying small amounts of genetic information extracted from bits of bone and tissue.

The work can be painstaking, and in some cases the DNA is too damaged to yield results.

Scientists have identified remains from 1,439 people, representing 51 percent of those who were killed. About half of the identified people were identified solely through DNA analysis.

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