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BETHESDA, Md. (AP) _ Lockheed Martin Corp. and the union representing 6,000 workers reached a tentative contract agreement early Friday at two of three aircraft plants that faced a possible strike next week.

Lockheed made a significant change in its offer over job security issues, pay, medical cost and pensions during all-night negotiations with federal mediators, according to John Crowdis of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Crowdis would not say what the changes were, but said the union would recommend that members pass the new contract when they vote on the proposal Sunday.

Employees at the huge defense contractor could walk off the job as early as Monday if no agreement was reached.

The new proposal covers workers at plants in Palmdale and Sunnyvale, Calif., Crowdis said. The union and Lockheed were still negotiating the contract for workers at the Marietta, Ga. plant, he said.

A spokesman for Lockheed could not immediately be reached for comment.

Workers at all three plants overwhelmingly rejected an initial offer from the company, which called for a 3 percent pay raise. About 95 percent of employees voted to strike earlier this week, Crowdis said.

Employees are unhappy that management has been given pay raises between 4.5 percent and 5 percent, but are more concerned about job security, pension and medical benefits, the union spokesman said.

The Marietta plant produces F-22 Raptor fighters and C-130J transport planes. Members of Local 709 of the Machinists union make up more than a third of the 7,000 Lockheed workers in Marietta.

In afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Lockheed shares were off 3 cents at $56.39.

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On the Net:

Lockheed Martin _ http://www.lmasc.com

Lockheed Martin negotiations update page _

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/negotiations/