Labor & Economic News Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Merck to Shut Japan Plants, Cut N.J. Jobs
By By BONNIE PFISTER, Associated Press Writer
Drug maker Merck & Co. said Wednesday it will shut down some operations in Japan and eliminate jobs in England and New Jersey, bringing to nearly 2,000 the number of job cuts detailed so far in a sweeping, three-year reorganization plan. In Japan,...


12 U.S. Bank Regions Report on Economy (AP)
AP - Reports on economic conditions from the Federal Reserve's 12 regional bank districts. The survey was released Wednesday.


US economic growth upgraded to 4.3 percent (AFP)
AFP - The US economy powered higher in the third quarter at a 4.3 percent annualized growth pace, the government said as it revised upward its previous estimate of 3.8 percent growth.


Rioting Deepens French Consumer Gloom (AP)
AP - Consumer confidence fell to an eight-year low during France's suburban rioting, despite a steady decline in the jobless rate, official data revealed Wednesday.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Delphi Hourly Workers Hold Protests
Delphi Corp. hourly workers protested the company's executive compensation plan in rallies Tuesday at the auto supplier's plants, the United Auto Workers said. Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy last month, was originally scheduled to defend the...


Bay Area nears 200,000 small businesses / Economy's slow but steady growth raises spirits, makes hiring a bit easier
By Tom Abate
The Bay Area is home to a profusion of small enterprises -- about 198,000 are open for business in the region's three major metropolitan areas. Mark Quinn, regional director of the Small Business Administration, said most people fail to appreciate the...


OECD upbeat on world growth ( - The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development on Tuesday encouraged the US Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates but urged restraint from the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank.


Chicago Fed Midwest factory index rises (Reuters)
Reuters - The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank said on Tuesday its Midwest manufacturing index grew solidly in October, helped by a surge in regional auto production.


British economy set to rebound in 2006: OECD (AFP)
AFP - The OECD said strengthening investment and exports should lift British economic growth from 1.7 percent this year to 2.4 percent in 2006.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Merck to Cut 7,000 Jobs by End of 2008
The embattled drugmaker Merck & Co. said Monday that it will cut about 7,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its work force, and will close or sell five of its 31 manufacturing plants by the end of 2008 in moves that it says will save up to $4 billion.


Merck to Cut 7,000 Jobs by End of 2008
The embattled drugmaker Merck & Co. said Monday that it will cut about 7,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its work force, and will close or sell five of its 31 manufacturing plants by the end of 2008 in moves that it says will save up to $4 billion.



European Commission Probing Discrimination
By By AOIFE WHITE, AP Business Writer
The European Commission plans to close a probe into possible discrimination against eastern European businesses and workers in the rest of the European Union early next year, a spokesman said Friday. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia,...


Tough-talking CEO states case / Turnaround plan infuriates Delphi workers
By Micheline Maynard
Robert Miller started off as the Oracle of Delphi, handing down dire pronouncements about the auto industry from his lofty post as chief executive of the parts supplier. But with the Delphi Corp. now in bankruptcy proceedings, Miller, known as Steve,...


Global Work Force Helps Fed on Inflation (AP)
AP - While Alan Greenspan has won praise for his successful 18-year battle to keep inflation under control, he's the first to say he's had a lot of help. Among those most responsible are tens of millions of workers in China, India and Eastern Europe.


German Consumer Sentiment Declines (AP)
AP - The forecast for German consumer sentiment for December fell due to concerns about high unemployment and uncertainty about the new government's plans to reform the economy, market research group GfK said Monday.


EU data to show galloping inflation, stable confidence (AFP)
AFP - Economic indicators for the eurozone to be released this week are expected to show that inflation remains well above the European Central Bank's medium-term target and that business and consumer confidence have stabilised, economists said.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Growth data fails to boost Brown before budget report (AFP)
AFP - Britain's economy grew at a subdued pace during the third quarter in 2005, dealing a blow to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown before his pre-budget report next month.


German Business Confidence Falls in Nov. (AP)
AP - German business confidence fell in November, a closely watched survey showed Thursday, with the country's retailing sector leading the decline, though signs of a moderate economic recovery continued.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hoover to Shutter Ohio Production Line
A Hoover Co. production line that makes machines used to clean floors and carpets will shut down, likely eliminating 275 jobs by year end as the company's parent shifts work to lower cost plants. The Eagle line's injection molding machines will go to...


Jobless claims higher than expected (Reuters)
Reuters - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits grew by a larger-than-expected 30,000 last week, government data showed on Wednesday, taking claims to their highest point since mid-October.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Michigan's jobless rate falls to 6.1%
Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent in October -- the lowest level in over three years -- but economists say the decline doesn't signal a turnaround in the state's sluggish economy.


Farmworkers Call on McDonald's for Help
By By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, Associated Press Writer
A farmworkers' advocacy group is calling on fast-food industry leader McDonald's to pay more for the tomatoes slapped on their premium burgers so that Florida pickers can be paid more. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers on Monday urged consumers to...


Skills shortage plagues manufacturers (Reuters)
Reuters - More than 80 percent of U.S. manufacturers say they cannot find enough qualified workers to meet customer demands, according to an industry study released on Tuesday.


Monday, November 21, 2005

As strike drags on, anger endures
In Business
Merlin Leine recognizes that much of the traveling public is apathetic about the Northwest Airlines mechanics strike, but he still shows up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to man the picket line during the 4-to-8-a.m. shift.


Immigration raid nets 125 illegal workers at Wal-Mart facility under construction in Pennsylvania
SCRANTON, Pa. -- An immigration raid at a Wal-Mart distribution center under construction led to the arrests of 125 illegal workers, all of whom will be deported, federal officials said Friday.


Delta and Northwest pilots may have had enough of cuts
MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest and Delta pilots have agreed to more than $1.2 billion in pay cuts over the last year and they're willing to give more. But talk of strikes this week from pilots at both bankrupt carriers signaled that they're running out of patience with demands to work for less.


California gains 6,800 jobs in October / Number of workers passes 17 million, but unemployment rises
California added a modest 6,800 jobs outside the farm sector in October, led by gains in the leisure and hospitality industry and construction, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday. The state's unemployment rate rose to 5.2...


GM to Ax 30,000 Jobs, Close 12 Facilities
By By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer
General Motors Corp., pounded by declining sales and rising health care costs, said Monday it will cut more than a quarter of its North American manufacturing jobs and close 12 facilities by 2008. The United Auto Workers called the plan "devastating" and...


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Judge lets Northwest cut pay temporarily
Northwest Airlines won permission from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Wednesday to temporarily cut pay as much as 24 percent for pilots, flight attendants and ground workers as the carrier tries to cut costs and restore profits.


Outsourcing outrage / Indian call-center workers suffer abuse
By Mike McPhate
While irate calls are a mainstay of customer service work in any country, many Indian call-center workers say they regularly face particular abuse from Americans, whose tantrums are sometimes racist and often inspired by anger over outsourcing. This...


Tech leaders say Silicon Valley's edge is growing duller / Those at San Jose meeting agree U.S. innovation is threatened by red tape, poor schooling
By Verne Kopytoff
Burdensome federal regulations, mediocre public education and restrictive immigration policies are dampening Silicon Valley innovation, putting companies at risk to rising giants in China and India. That was the consensus of several technology...


Jobless claims fall to lowest since April (Reuters)
Reuters - The number of U.S. workers filing for initial jobless aid fell sharply last week, a government report showed on Thursday, pushing the claims total to its lowest point since April.


US industrial production up 0.9 percent (AFP)
AFP - US industrial production rebounded 0.9 percent in October after a steep fall the previous month caused by hurricanes and a Boeing strike, the Federal Reserve said.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Los Angeles Times to Cut 85 Jobs in Newsroom
Cuts would be announced in other departments in the next three weeks, but the publisher did not say how many jobs would be lost over all.


Delphi Unions Balk at Plan to Eliminate 18,000 Jobs
The auto parts manufacturer has proposed eliminating about 14,000 jobs in the United States as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection.


EDS boss says big cuts loom in Michigan
DETROIT -- A three-year turnaround effort at Michigan's largest high-tech employer has created more stability and better cash flow, but more job cuts are needed, its chief executive said Tuesday.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pension Board Says Deficit Is Steady for Now
The federal agency that insures pensions reported yesterday that its financial position stayed roughly constant over the last fiscal year, after three years of record losses. But its executive director warned that the pension system's troubles, and the risk to the agency, were not over.


Pilots' leader blasts NWA management
In Business
The head of the Northwest Airlines pilots union charged Tuesday that the airline's management is using bankruptcy to pressure veteran employees to take excessive pay cuts, and he called some of the executives making the demands "mercenaries."


Monday, November 14, 2005

Northwest settles long-term contracts with two small unions
In Business
Members of the Aircraft Technical Support Association (ATSA) have ratified a cost-cutting agreement with Northwest Airlines.


Tech engineers fear U.S. is falling behind / Pace of outsourcing leaves them nervous about their jobs
By Tom Abate
U.S. engineers are worried about job security and fearful that the nation may be losing its technological lead over foreign rivals, according to a survey of electronics design professionals. The study, conducted by the trade publication EE Times and...


Union ratifies GM contract with a costlier benefit plan
By Jeremy W. Peters
In a move that will save General Motors about $1 billion a year, members of the United Automobile Workers union have voted to accept a new health care plan that will require them to pay more, the union said Friday. By accepting the deal, the union has...


United to add 700 jobs in S.F. / Airline will hire a total of 2,000 flight attendants
United Airlines, planning to exit bankruptcy in February, said Friday that 700 of the 2,000 flight attendants it is adding will be based in San Francisco. The flight attendant addition, announced on Thursday, will be needed to expand international...


Hospital workers ratify contract / California Pacific agrees to 16% pay increase by 2008
By George Raine
Service workers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco ended a two-month-long strike on Friday by ratifying a labor contract that represents a compromise that both the union and the employer say they are pleased with. The agreement...


Eurozone economy strengthens under inflation clouds (AFP)
AFP - A run of positive economic indicators in several EU countries and an expected pick up in activity in the eurozone during the third quarter has given rise to moderate optimism about the European economy, even as evidence of inflation emerges across the continent.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Probe finds Halliburton broke law 3 times / Labor Dept. says firm diverted money from pension funds
By Mary Williams Walsh
A federal investigation of Halliburton's pension plans has uncovered three violations of the law, including charging some costs of Halliburton's executive pension and bonus plans to the workers' pension fund, correspondence from the Labor Department...


Pact may end hospital strike / California Pacific workers to vote on tentative agreement
By George Raine
A tentative contract agreement to end the 58-day strike of service workers at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center was announced Thursday. A ratification vote by members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is set to take place today. If...


Paperwork is 21% of health costs / $26 billion goes to administration each year in state
By Victoria Colliver
About 21 percent of private health spending in California goes to insurance paperwork, according to a report released Thursday. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Health Affairs, investigated the cost to insurance companies,...


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Northwest Airlines ground jobs in doubt
Northwest Airlines wants to outsource the jobs of about 5,000 baggage handlers, customer service agents and other ground workers, according to the union representing those employees.


French Economy Rebounds Sharply in 3Q (AP)
AP - French economic growth gathered pace in the third quarter as buoyant exports narrowed September's trade deficit and manufacturing output rose, official data revealed Thursday, in a much-needed boost for the government after two weeks of rioting.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Strike momentum flagging
Northwest Airlines mechanic David Smith last week noticed that he officially made his way onto his striking union's "Wall of Shame."


Seat staff to strike over layoffs
Workers at Seat are planning to stage a walkout in protest at plans to cut 1,340 jobs at the Spanish carmaker. The firm, which is owned by Germany's Volkswagen, announced on Friday that it was planning to cut 8% of its workforce as part of a cost cutting drive.


EU grants Turkey market economy status (AFP)
AFP - The European Commission granted Turkey "market economy status" provided it keeps up the pace of reforms, in a symbolic boost for Ankara a month after it started EU entry talks.


German 'Wise Men' cautious on growth, deficit next year (AFP)
AFP - Germany is set to breach the EU's budget rules for the fifth year in a row in 2006 as growth in the eurozone's biggest economy remains sluggish, according to the latest forecasts by the government's so-called "Five Wise Men".


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NWA seeks 19% pay cut for ground workers now
In Business
Northwest Airlines asked a bankruptcy judge Monday to temporarily impose 19 percent pay cuts on customer service agents and other ground workers.


US and China sign textiles deal
The US and China sign a textile trade deal ending months of argument over Chinese exports.


NWA asks judge to cut ground workers' pay by 19%
Northwest Airlines asked a bankruptcy judge Monday to impose a temporary 19 percent wage cut on its baggage handlers, reservation agents and other ground workers.


Affidavit accuses Wal-Mart
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants, many of whom were housed in crowded conditions and sometimes slept in the backs of stores, according to a federal agency's affidavit.


High Court Backs Workers in Pay Dispute
By By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that companies must pay plant workers for the time it takes to change into protective clothing and safety gear and walk to their work stations. The issue was one of two that justices settled...


Job openings, separations rise in Sept. (Reuters)
Reuters - The number of U.S. job openings increased in September along with the number of separations, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Push is on to shield workers from relentless demands
A loose coalition of organizations is pushing for changes in public policy to shield U.S. workers from employers' relentless pushes to put in more hours on the job.


Northwest reaches wage cuts deal
US airline Northwest reaches a temporary deal on cutting wage costs as it seeks to cut labour costs by $2.5bn.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Pilot union leaders agree to interim pay cut of 23.9%
In Business
Northwest Airlines pilot union leaders endorsed an interim contract Thursday night that would slash hourly pay rates by 23.9 percent.


Wal-Mart sponsors economic conference, but is it risky?
NEW YORK -- Under a barrage of criticism that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is bad for the overall economy, the world's largest company is taking a public look at itself.


Pilots' union leaders back pay cut at Northwest
MINNEAPOLIS - Leaders of the pilots union at Northwest Airlines on Thursday endorsed an interim contract that would slash hourly pay rates by 23.9 percent and eliminate premiums for international flying.


Unemployment Declines in Europe (AP)
AP - Unemployment in the 12 countries that use the euro currency fell to 8.4 percent in September as the European economy shows signs of a sluggish recovery.


Wal-Mart lowers costs at a price: studies (Reuters)
Reuters - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lowers consumer costs and adds jobs but has also led to a decline in wages and an increase in the number of people relying on government aid for health care, studies released on Friday show.


US economy added 56,000 jobs in October (AFP)
AFP - The US economy added 56,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said in a report weaker than anticipated by private economists.


Small business hiring strong -survey (Reuters)
Reuters - Hiring at U.S. small businesses was quite strong in October and implies a robust gain in overall U.S. hiring last month, a small business group said on Friday, just ahead of the release of key U.S. jobs data.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Accounting Board to Vote on Pension Rule
The board that writes the accounting regulations for American companies is scheduled to vote next week on whether to revise the rule for pensions.


Machinists strike Boeing defense unit
Boeing's 1,250 Machinists at rocket and C-17 plants in California, Florida and Alabama walked off the job Wednesday after rejecting the company's latest offer -- a deal that differs from a contract Machinists in the Puget Sound region accepted in September.


Job Market Struggles to Regain Footing (AP)
AP - The job market is struggling to regain its balance after getting knocked over by Hurricane Katrina. Employers, coping with high energy prices and shaken by two other hurricanes, showed caution in hiring in October.


Greenspan Warns U.S. on Budget Deficits (AP)
AP - With just three months left before he leaves office, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan raised a warning to Congress: The country could face "serious economic disruptions" if bloated budget deficits are not curbed.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NWA flight attendants finalizing concessionary deal
In Business
The Northwest Airlines flight attendants union said Wednesday that it expects to sign a temporary contract that would cut its members wages by 20 to 25 percent.


Jakarta to increase Indonesian minimum wage to Rp 819,100 in 2006
The increase, however, is much lower than the Rp 1,203,015 demanded by labor unions. The 15 percent increase granted by the administration is below the inflation rate between January and October this year of 15.65 percent. '


German Unemployment Declines as Companies Hire Low-Paid, Part-Time Workers
2 (Bloomberg) -- German unemployment fell in October as companies hired more part-time workers, at least the fifth report in two weeks to signal faster growth in Europe's largest economy.


Americas trade zone is 'stalled'
US President George W Bush admits that plans for a giant free trade zone in the Americas have stalled.


South Africa plan aims to spread the wealth
South Africa releases new rules on black economic empowerment, saying more people will now benefit.


Deutsche Telekom cuts 32,000 jobs
Up to 32,000 posts are to go at Germany's Deutsche Telekom in a cost-cutting drive to counter tough competition.


Google to return to libraries / After short hiatus, book scanning will start up again
By Verne Kopytoff
Despite complaints that it is violating copyright law, Google Inc. has resumed a project to scan books from some of the world's biggest libraries. The Mountain View search engine's self-imposed, 2 1/2-month break from digitizing copyrighted library...


Hospital workers set date to strike at St. Luke's / Union officials reject proposal for settlement
By Victoria Colliver
The seven-week strike at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center will be extended to St. Luke's Hospital in the city Nov. 14 unless the dispute is settled before then, labor leaders said Tuesday. About 500 employees represented by SEIU United...


Good news for Merkel as German unemployment falls to 10-month low (AFP)
AFP - As German chancellor-to-be Angela Merkel struggles to hold a shaky grand coalition together even before it gets down to work, data brought rare good news with unemployment falling sharply last month.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Asian workforce amasses savings glut for retirement
SINGAPORE: Asia's workforce, dominated by adults planning for retirement, has amassed a savings surplus of more than $300 billion invested in the global financial markets, US investment bank Morgan Stanley said. "


British Airlines announce job cuts despite increased profits
The job cuts were announced as BAA delivered improved results for the six months to September 30 despite the impact of wildcat strikes at Heathrow and the London bombings of July 7.


Wal-Mart Movie Opens With Fracas in Manhattan
At the premiere of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," a Wal-Mart consultant was told to leave the theater after the director accused him of trying to secretly record the film.


Indonesia fuel cuts hit economy
Indonesia's unpopular decision to cut fuel subsidies already is having an impact on its economy, figures indicate.


Putin seeks Russian diversified economy
Vladimir Putin says the Russian economy will diversify amid concerns of a slowdown in growth this year.


Firms in Britain 'must pay up' for pensions
UK firms may have to pay an extra £130bn into final salary pension schemes over the next 10 years, the watchdog warns.


Manufacturing Index Declines in October (AP)
AP - The nation's manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace during October as companies increasingly felt the strain of an ongoing rise in energy and raw materials prices. The continuing price increases made it likely that the Federal Reserve, which raised interest rates again Tuesday, will keep nudging rates higher.


US factory activity slips but growth still robust ( - US manufacturing activity slipped slightly, but still showed robust expansion last month, underlining the ongoing strength of the economy as the Federal Reserve met to discuss an expected quarter-point interest rate rise.


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