Labor & Economic News Blog

Monday, October 31, 2005

Current Labor Market Regulations for Womenin Saudia Arabia: Beneficial or Detrimental?
The new labor law announced recently by the Saudi Council of Ministers with regard to the employment of women was received with both great enthusiasm and skepticism.


Minimum wage row in New Zealand looms
Jobseekers may be thrilled to hear the news that the New Zealand government is looking at raising the minimum wage, but it might not be such a windfall for less experienced workers and those heading for their first job.


BBC job cuts to cost millions
Managers are planning for a 'worst-case scenario' and have budgeted for some of the division's longest-serving staff to volunteer for redundancy.


A New Weapon for Wal-Mart: A War Room
Wal-Mart has set up a war room staffed by political experts as part of its effort to sell an improved image to reluctant consumers.


What Is Organic? Powerful Players Want a Say
As companies like McDonald's and Wal-Mart offer more organic food, a bitter debate continues over what exactly the word "organic" should mean.


Silicon Valley humming again / Tech giants turn on their smarts and figure out where to take the Internet
By Carolyn Said
Job advertisements flood the Internet, seeking workers for Google, Yahoo and eBay. Newspaper headlines blare reports of those companies raking in money hand over fist and bingeing on multimillion-dollar shopping sprees. And Apple Computer, the personal...


Friday, October 28, 2005

Japan's unemployment rate falls in Sept
TOKYO: Japan's unemployment rate improved to 4.2 percent in September, the government said Friday, in a sign that the labour market remains strong.


Novell Plans To Layoff 20% Of Workforce
Novell is expected to layoff as much as 20 percent of its workforce as part of a massive cost cutting measure to placate Wall Street.


Workers at S.F.'s Timbuk2 bag $1 million in bonuses / Manufacturer racks up major sales growth in the past three years
By Pia Sarkar
Timbuk2 Designs Inc., a San Francisco manufacturer of bike messenger bags, laptop cases and other accessories, rewarded its employees with bonus paychecks on Friday after enjoying major sales growth in the past three years. Timbuk2, recently acquired...


Hospital contract proposed / Union says it has new offer from California Pacific
By George Raine
Management of California Pacific Medical Center on Friday presented a proposed contract to the union representing striking service employees, using an intermediary, the union's leader said. Sal Rosselli, the president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers-...


October Euro Zone Inflation at 2.5 Percent (AP)
AP - Inflation in the 12 countries using the euro rose by 2.5 percent in October, according to early estimates from the European Union's statistical agency Eurostat.


US economy grows 3.8% in third quarter ( - Economic strength in the summer ahead of hurricanes Katrina and Rita meant the US economy grew by more than expected in the third quarter, but economists maintained their prediction for a slowdown in the months ahead.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

The cost of compliance / Sexual harassment training becomes a lucrative business
By Ilana DeBare
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, Cynthia Sandoval had taken her traveling sexual harassment slide show to Dinuba, Lathrop and Modesto. Now it was Thursday, and she was standing in a Mill Valley conference room, talking to employees of a market...


EU agrees way forward on economy, but budget row lingers (AFP)
AFP - European Union leaders have reached broad agreement on how to steer the bloc out of its economic and political malaise, but real tensions linger over EU spending plans, including billions of euros in farm subsidies at stake in global trade talks.


OECD: U.S. Economy Set for Soft Landing (AP)
AP - The U.S. economy is on course for a "soft landing" and steady growth of 3.25 percent next year, the OECD said Thursday, but the federal budget deficit and soaring oil prices still pose risks.


Durable goods orders plunge (Reuters)
Reuters - Government reports on Thursday suggested a possible cooling in the housing market and some economic slowdown due to high energy prices, but analysts said the economy remained robust enough to permit the Federal Reserve to keep raising borrowing costs.


Job Losses From Storms Top a Half Million (AP)
AP - Job losses from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have passed the half-million mark with further increases still to come from Wilma as the Gulf Coast hurricanes continue to batter the economy.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wal-Mart memo lists ways to cut benefits / One idea would be to discourage hiring unhealthy people
By Michael Barbaro, Steven Greenhouse
An internal memo sent to Wal-Mart's board of directors proposes numerous ways to hold down spending on health care and other benefits while seeking to minimize damage to the retailer's reputation. Among the recommendations were hiring more part-time...


Duties wrong way on China yuan: Snow (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday said legislation seeking new tariffs on China's goods was the wrong way to encourage Beijing to further loosen its yuan currency trading regime.


Extend tax breaks to boost economy: Snow (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday urged Congress to extend expiring tax cuts and control spending to promote economic growth and create jobs.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Falls (AP)
AP - The outlook for the holiday shopping season darkened Tuesday as the latest consumer confidence reading showed Americans even more pessimistic about the economy during October. Hurricanes, surging gasoline prices and worries about the job market took a further toll on consumer psyches.


Bernanke doesn't see inflation picking up (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. inflation pressures are likely to remain confined to the energy sector, and fiscal and monetary policy is accommodative, Federal Reserve chairman nominee Ben Bernanke said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.


Monday, October 24, 2005

NWA workers fear effects of proposed cuts
ROMULUS -- Jennifer Judd, a Northwest Airlines Corp. flight attendant for nearly 15 years, worries daily about the cutbacks in pay and benefits the bankrupt carrier insists it needs to survive.


At bottom of contract food chain, haulers scramble for a share
LAUREL, Miss. -- Midway through his first day as a bit player in the Hurricane Katrina cleanup, Tracy House began wondering whether his piece of the pie wasn't just another guy's leftovers.


AMFA won't vote on deal; NWA starts hiring again
In Business
Northwest Airlines management resumed hiring permanent replacement workers Friday after leaders of the mechanics union said members would not vote on the company's latest offer.


Unions irate over Delphi's new offer
Delphi Corp. delivered a proposal to its labor unions Friday that calls for deep wage and benefit cuts, sparking an immediate howl of protest from the UAW. "Delphi's proposal is designed to hasten the dismantling of America's middle class by importing Third World wages to the United


Poor Nations Are Littered With Old PC's, Report Says
The report says that the unusable equipment is being donated or sold to developing nations as a way to dodge the expense of having to recycle it properly.


For Blacks, a Dream in Decline
The number of blacks in unions has fallen much more quickly than the number of whites since 2000.


Consumer Demand at Home Keeps China's Factories Humming, and Hiring
After a quarter-century of growth powered largely by exports, China is showing signs of opening a new chapter of strong growth, this time propelled by domestic spending.


EU plan to offset globalisation would help find new jobs: Blair (AFP)
AFP - British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said a proposed fund to cushion the impact of painful economic restructuring in Europe would protect employees and help them to find new jobs.


Blair, warming up for EU summit, links social system to growth (AFP)
AFP - Prime Minister Tony Blair warmed up for a special EU summit on globalisation later this week, saying Europe's social security system cannot survive without growth-making economic reform.


FedEx to Settle Bias Claim for $500,000
By By JIM SALTER, AP Business Writer
FedEx Freight East will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over allegations the company discriminated against black dockworkers in St. Louis, the EEOC said Monday.


Wal-Mart to Introduce New Health Plan
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a plan to lower health-insurance premiums for workers, allowing some to buy coverage for as little as $11 per month. The world's largest retailer has been under criticism for not offering...


Overworked no more / National group working hard to give Americans a break
By Teresa Castle
Peter Moylan remembers the week when he toiled away from 8 a.m. to past midnight four nights straight to finish a project at a commercial real estate company in San Francisco. "It was 2:30 a.m. when I was done, but I needed one question answered...


State loses 23,700 jobs in September / Yet unemployment dips to 5.1%, on par with national figure
By Victoria Colliver
California lost 23,700 jobs in September even as the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 5.1 percent from 5.2 percent in August, the state Employment Development Department said Friday. The drop in nonfarm payrolls, which followed a gain of 39,800...


Bush economic adviser in line to replace Greenspan ( - George W. Bush on Monday nominated Ben Bernanke, a leading monetary policy expert and Wall Street's favoured candidate, to replace Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Unions failed to unite on cutbacks
In Business
On the first day of the mechanics strike at Northwest Airlines, leaders from the carrier's other labor groups gathered at the offices of the pilots union and began to discuss crafting a voluntary pay-and-benefits concession package that could stave off a bankruptcy filing.


Ford restructuring to affect all staff levels
Ford Motor Co . Chairman and CEO Bill Ford said Thursday that the automaker will not announce its upcoming restructuring until January, despite posting a bigger-than-expected loss today. Workers at all levels of the company, Ford said, would be affected by the cost-cutting plan, which will include health-care benefit changes and plant closings.


GM DEAL: Cries of pain mix with sighs of relief
Depending on whom you ask, the deal reached between the UAW and General Motors Corp. to cut health care costs is either an unfair burden or a major relief.


The Passive-Aggressive Workplace
DOES this sound like where you work: Most people pay only lip service to orders from on high, knowing there are rarely unpleasant consequences.


Trade Official Finds Blame to Go Around
The chief European Union trade negotiator lashed out at the U.S. over blaming Europe for stalled trade talks, while accusing France of using hyperbole to try to delay an overhaul of agricultural subsidies.


Northwest Resumes Hiring New Mechanics
MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 21 (AP) - Northwest Airlines resumed hiring permanent substitutes for striking mechanics on Friday, after their union refused to put the company's latest offer to a vote.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Union Offers Details of Health Deal With G.M.
For the first time, General Motors retirees will have to pay deductibles, monthly premiums and co-payments for services like X-rays.


China's Economy Surges 9.4% in 3rd Quarter
China's roaring economy grew 9.4 percent in the third quarter of this year, fueled by surging exports, strong investments in infrastructure and solid retail sales.


Jobless claims plunge (Reuters)
Reuters - The number of unemployed U.S. workers asking for initial jobless aid fell a larger-than-expected 35,000 last week on the back of fewer hurricane-related claims, the government said on Thursday.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

America Online to Lay Off 700 Employees
America Online is laying off more than 700 employees, primarily in member-services call centers, in response to the ongoing decline in subscribers for its dial-up Internet-access services


Storms Fail to Hamper Economic Activity (AP)
AP - Most of the country managed decent economic growth in September and early October even amid soaring energy prices from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.


Housing starts, permits surge (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. housing starts jumped 3.4 percent in September and permits for future groundbreaking surged to a 32-year high, defying forecasts for a slowdown in construction following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, government data showed on Wednesday.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wal-Mart to Start Equity Fund to Help Diversify Its Suppliers
Wal-Mart Stores, which is fighting the nation's largest sex discrimination lawsuit, will set up a $25 million private equity fund to support businesses owned by women and members of minority groups over the next five years, the retailer said yesterday.



Europeans Block French Move to Limit Global Trade Talks
By TOM WRIGHT International Herald Tribune
European foreign ministers rejected a French proposal to rein in the negotiating authority of Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner.


GM, UAW deal changes landscape
General Motors Corp.'s landmark deal with the UAW on Monday to dramatically cut union health care expenses could reshape the benefits all of Detroit's auto companies offer workers. The deal to trim $1 billion in cash from GM's $6-billion annual health care bill is the largest single cost-cutting initiative ever announced by the company. It sharply reduces the automaker's health care costs for 750,000 hourly workers, retirees and dependents, GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said.


Japanese women suffering from Retired Husband Syndrome / Some wives become sick under the stress of demanding spouses
By Anthony Faiola
Sakura Terakawa, 63, describes her four decades of married life in a small urban apartment as a gradual transition from wife to mother to servant. Communication with her husband started with love letters and wooing words under pink cherry blossoms.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Trip aims to deliver CAFTA promises
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is ushering executives from Ford Motor Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and 17 other companies around Central America this week in an effort to make good on promises to expand trade with the region.


NewYork Fed manufacturing index dips (Reuters)
Reuters - Growth at New York State factories slowed in October to its weakest level in five months, although new orders jumped, the New York Federal Reserve said on Monday.


Northwest workers face hard choices on cutbacks
The question now hanging over the heads of mechanics at Northwest Airlines Inc. is one that thousands of workers across the country will face: How does a worker vote for a union contract that drastically cuts pay, jobs or, in the case of Northwest's mechanics, both? It's the question of contract concessions. An ugly phrase to union workers, it's a tool that financially ailing companies are using to slash costs.


GM, union scramble on eve of huge loss
With General Motors Corp. expected to post another massive loss today, pressure is mounting for GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner to announce a health care deal with the UAW. The UAW and GM worked through the weekend on cutting the automaker's $6-billion health care bill.


Delphi Executives to Take Pay Cut
By By RON VAMPLE, Associated Press Writer
Top executives at Delphi Corp. said Monday they will take pay cuts while the auto supplier seeks wage concessions from its hourly workers and tries to reorganize its finances under bankruptcy protection.


GM, UAW Reach Deal to Cut Health Costs
By By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer
General Motors Corp., under mounting pressure to turn around its business after losing nearly $3 billion in the first nine months of the year, announced a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers Monday that will help lower its spending on...


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Trade Talks End With No Chinese Reponse (AP)
AP - Two days of U.S.-Chinese trade talks ended Monday with no response by China to an ambitious American proposal to reform its financial sector and open its markets wider to foreign products, while also moving faster on currency reforms.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

S. Korean economic growth to hit 5% in 2006
Propelled by the sustained economic recovery, South Korea's economic growth will likely record up to 5% next year, a sign that the nation's economy looks poised to get out the recessionary rut.


German Inflation Hits Four-Year High
Inflation in Germany, the euro zone's biggest economy, topped its highest level in more than four years in September, driven mainly by soaring oil prices, final data showed on Wednesday.


OECD scoreboard shows high degree of international R&D collaboration in Europe
For example, more and more multinational companies are setting up research and development (R&D) laboratories abroad, but they are drawn to some countries more than others.


South African growth target achievable, says IMF
GROWTH rates of between five and six percent were achievable for South Africa over the long term, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said today.


Warning on UK economy's strength
The UK manufacturing sector is in an "alarming" state and the service sector is also disappointing, the British Chambers of Commerce says.


Alitalia unions agree cost deal
Troubled Italian airline Alitalia reaches an agreement with labour unions aimed at saving it 65m euros a year from 2006.


EU to give Turkey market economy status: source (Reuters)
Reuters - The European Commission will declare Turkey to be a "functioning market economy" for the first time next month in a fresh boost for its European Union membership bid, a senior EU source said on Thursday.


Britain urges EU to overhaul economic system (AFP)
AFP - Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said the Europe Union's economic system was not working and he called for urgent reform to meet global challenges as Britain prepared to host an EU summit.


Trade Deficit Hits Third Highest Level (AP)
AP - The nation's trade deficit rose 1.8 percent to $59.03 billion in August, the third highest in history, driven by higher oil prices.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

REI's part-timers get benefits, Mervyns cuts hours
Recreational Equipment Inc. is extending medical benefits to all its employees, no matter how many hours they work. Meanwhile, Mervyns is making many sales associates part-timers and dropping benefits for all but full-time staff.


No breakthrough in WTO trade talk
World Trade Organisation talks fail to find agreement as the US accuses the European Union of not doing enough.


US-China textile talks break down
The US and China fail again to reach a deal over China's surging exports of textiles and clothing.


OECD slashes UK growth forecasts
UK economic growth forecasts are cut, but there is no need for more rate cuts, an influential report says.


Job openings fall in August (Reuters)
Reuters - Openings in the U.S. job market fell and the number of people leaving their jobs increased in August, the Labor Department said on Wednesday in a preliminary report, which said it was too early to judge the impact of Hurricane Katrina.


United Airlines to Recall 300 Pilots
United Airlines plans to recall about 300 pilots to meet an expected increase in flying next year as it comes out of bankruptcy, the nation's No. 2 airline said The total represents nearly a sixth of those remaining on...


Google to Locate New Facility Near Phoenix
Search engine giant Google Inc. said Wednesday it plans to locate a new engineering and support facility in the Phoenix area. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google said it will hire 600 engineers and others to work at the new...


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ex-employee settles lawsuit with Alaska
By on Business & Technology
A former maintenance supervisor at Alaska Airlines has settled a federal lawsuit against the airline that alleged he was wrongfully fired...


Poor countries weigh trade plan
The G20 group of developing nations meet to discuss the US and EU's latest proposed global trade concessions.


Globalisation 'gains' in textiles
Asian states have avoided the worst effects of the end of global textile restrictions, but Africa has suffered.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans layoffs due to budget constraints
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to lay off between 5 percent and 8 percent of its work force as a result of belt-tightening at the agency's Washington headquarters, officials said. The lab's director, Charles Elachi,...


Northwest, Striking Mechanics to Meet
By By JOSHUA FREED, AP Business Writer
Northwest Airlines Corp. and its striking mechanics said Tuesday they'll meet this week, although neither side described the talks as negotiations. Northwest mechanics, cleaners and custodians have been on strike since Aug....


Brown: Fewer Barriers to Boost Growth (AP)
AP - Improving trade with the United States will boost European growth and jobs, British Treasury chief Gordon Brown said Tuesday after talks with EU finance ministers.


Indiana Colgate Toothpaste Plant to Close
Colgate-Palmolive Co. told workers Tuesday that its 500-employee plant that makes most of the company's U.S. toothpaste supply will close by January 2008. The shutdown, which was unexpected by union leaders, will happen in...


Snow prods China towards currency reform (AFP)
AFP - US Treasury Secretary John Snow urged China to relax its grip on its currency to stimulate global growth as he arrived here to take US demands for reform to the heart of the Asian economic powerhouse.


Consumer confidence up in October: survey (Reuters)
Reuters - Consumers were slightly less pessimistic about the U.S. economy in October, with rising interest rates and high gasoline prices the main worries, according to a survey released on Tuesday


Monday, October 10, 2005

Read the Tea Leaves: China Will Be Top Exporter
China's tea industry is growing, even as young Chinese lose interest in the beverage, meaning more of it is being shipped abroad.


Top state schools in England 'serve wealthy'
The most successful state secondary schools in England are admitting too few children from poorer families, says a report from an education charity. The Sutton Trust says that in the top 200 schools, only 3% of pupils qualify for free school meals - compared to a national average of 14%.


Under-40s in UK 'face homes shut-out'
House prices will leave one in three thirty-somethings out in the cold by 2026, according to the British government.


Morocco flies migrants south
Morocco has sent the first of several planes full of illegal West African migrants to Senegal.
The migrants accuse Morocco's security forces of ill-treating them. The flight with 140 migrants arrived from Oujda, near the Algerian border.


Spain in migrant crisis talks
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos is to visit Morocco for talks on how to handle migrants seeking to enter Spain's North African enclaves.


Spain expels more migrants
Spain has expelled another group of migrants from its enclave of Melilla in northern Morocco, the second such expulsion in as many days.


French Prime Minister seeks to reassure angry unions over economic program
PARIS (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin responded to critics of his economic programme, two days after a nationwide strike brought hundreds of thousands of people into the street. In his most extensive prime-time television interview since taking office four months ago, Villepin said late Thursday that he had taken note of the "discontent", the "concern", the "discouragement" and "scepticism" expressed by demonstrators on Tuesday.


The struggle for British Columbia's future: The importance of the B.C. Teacher's Federation strike
Seven Oaks Opinion
The BCTF is one of the best unions in this province: progressive, organized, and potentially powerful. We need to support them in this time of dire need. If progressives want the continued support of the labour movement – that is, if progressives want to continue to be relevant as a force in politics, we absolutely must show the labour movement that we will be there for them when they need us.


Teachers guilty of contempt, B.C. judge concludes
Globe and Mail
Vancouver — British Columbia's defiant public-school teachers were found in contempt of court late yesterday for their continuing province-wide illegal strike.


Union agrees end to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation dispute
Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, and its largest union agree on a deal to end a long-running lockout.


UK factory gate inflation rising
The prices of goods leaving UK factories rose faster than expected last month, official figures show.


Truck driver shortage in Puget Sound area grows more acute
As the Puget Sound area sees more imported cargo, especially from Asia, trucking officials in the state say there's a problem: a shortage of qualified drivers to move goods.


As Canada's unemployment rate declines, spectre of worker shortage raised
Canada's unemployment rate dropped back to a three-decade low in September, and a survey suggests companies are having increasing difficulty finding the right kinds of workers to support their growing businesses.


2 jobs, 1 weary life
CHICAGO After years of endless-seeming work and little sleep, Muyiwa Jaiyeola, 33, shares these tips on surviving two jobs: Never watch the clock. Don't ever miss any buses. Lost travel time means lost sleep.


Big Easy Businesses Lack Workers to Hire
The shortage is obvious at the city's fanciest hotels, where a lack of staff means maid service is offered just once a week.


U.K. Jobless Claims Probably Rose in September, Economists' Survey Shows
10 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. jobless claims probably rose for an eighth month in September, extending the longest period of increases in almost 13 years, as slowing economic growth forced companies to cut costs, a survey of economists showed.


Part-time workers are more productive
New research from work-life balance charity Working Families shows that flexible workers think they are more productive at work than those who have no flexibility.


Trade Chief Makes Offer to Reduce Crop Subsidies
The U.S. is prepared to cut many farm subsidies by 60 percent in five years and eventually eliminate them, but wants deeper cuts by the European Union and Japan.


Trade Chief Makes Offer to Reduce Crop Subsidies
The U.S. is prepared to cut many farm subsidies by 60 percent in five years and eventually eliminate them, but wants deeper cuts by the European Union and Japan.


Delphi workers brace for changes after bankruptcy filing
In Business
SAGINAW, Mich. Delphi Corp.'s bankruptcy filing has left its workers with an uncertain future as the nation's largest auto supplier tries to regain its financial footing.


NWA mechanics not eligible for benefits, judge rules
In Business
Striking mechanics at Northwest Airlines have been denied state unemployment benefits by a judge who ruled Monday that the airline's final contract offer was reasonable.


TOM WALSH: Delphi crash is another chance
As if on cue after Delphi Corp. 's utterly unsurprising Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Saturday, out poured the equally predictable wails of anguish from Gov. Jennifer Granholm, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and other frustrated souls. Granholm declared herself "angry" and "profoundly disturbed by Delphi's decision."


BRIAN DICKERSON: Them that's got shall get
People trying to understand what's happening at Delphi Corp. need only remember that we live in a competitive world. To compete with stingy auto suppliers overseas, Delphi needs to pay its hourly workers less. To compete with corporations at home, Michigan's fourth-largest company needs to pay its top managers more. Got it? It's all about competition.


Delphi execs get severance boost
With reports circulating that Delphi Corp. could file for bankruptcy as early as today, the company promised about 21 of its top executives Friday that they'd get more money if they are fired or laid off.


THE WORKERS: Take a 63% cut in pay? First reaction is anger
Delphi Corp. union workers across the country grappled Friday with how they would make ends meet if their employer, the nation's largest auto parts supplier, followed through on pay cuts of up to 63% to reduce costs and avoid filing for bankruptcy.


TOM WALSH: For some in auto jobs, the apocalypse is now
Will impending shakeouts at Delphi Corp. and General Motors Corp. be apocalyptic events for Detroit's auto industry, shattering forever the notion that America's industrial working class could expect good wages, company-paid health care and secure retirements in perpetuity? A frustrated UAW President Ron Gettelfinger talks like doomsday is near.


GM raises health cost for salaried
DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. is increasing health care costs for tens of thousands of white-collar employees and retirees in a move that could save the troubled automaker millions of dollars in 2006.


Top U.S. supplier of auto parts seeks Chapter 11 / Delphi's filing is largest in car industry history
Delphi, the nation's largest auto parts supplier, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday, the largest filing ever in the domestic auto industry. The move reinforces the industry's deepening financial crisis and is a sign that the labor...


Friday, October 07, 2005

NWA turns up the heat
Frustrated in its efforts to wring $1.4 billion in wage concessions and other givebacks from its employees, Northwest Airlines is within days of asking the judge overseeing its bankruptcy reorganization to impose new contracts on most of its unions.


Senators block pension measure
WASHINGTON — Senators backed by an alliance of manufacturers and unions blocked action Thursday on a pension-overhaul bill in protest over requirements that companies with less than stellar credit ratings pay more into their pension funds.


Minnesota jobless claims jump
Minnesota won't know until later this month how many jobs were added — or lost — in September, but a jump in the state's unemployment rolls last month suggests the job picture here won't be great.


Delphi demands 63% pay cut from UAW
Delphi Corp. has demanded such drastic cuts in wages and benefits for workers that, according to one UAW local , its members would no longer be able to afford the cars they help build. According to a flyer sent to at least two UAW locals Thursday, the company is asking for wage cuts of as much as 63%, to $10 an hour, and for workers to pay 27% of their health care costs versus 7% currently.


Northwest seeks contract talk time limit
Northwest Airlines plans to ask a federal bankruptcy judge to throw out the existing labor contracts if concession agreements can't be reached with its unions within two months, Doug Steenland, Northwest CEO said in a letter to management employees this week.


Bankruptcy fears grow for Delphi
Unions representing workers at troubled car parts supplier Delphi says the firm is seeking huge wage cuts.


Delta digs in in effort to get cost cuts from pilots
ATLANTA -- Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, is prepared to use the bankruptcy court to achieve $325 million in cost concessions from its pilots if the company and union can't reach a deal on their own, Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein said Thursday.


Labor Talks Stall; Delphi Said to Be Poised for Bankruptcy
DETROIT, Oct. 6 - As Delphi's negotiations for concessions from its largest union stalled on Thursday, people close to the talks said the company was poised to file for bankruptcy protection, possibly as early as Sunday night.


Industrial slump sparks fears for UK economy
SURPRISE news of a slump in UK industrial production yesterday sparked fears that economic growth in the third quarter could fall far short of the below-trend pace in the second, but interest rates were held.


Brazil, Mexico Inflation Slows, Paving Way for Central Banks to Cut Rates
7 (Bloomberg) -- Slowing inflation in Brazil and Mexico, Latin America's two biggest economies, is paving the way for central bankers to cut interest rates and curb gains in their currencies, analysts such as UBS AG's Michael Gavin said.


Alitalia Cancels 138 Flights Before Strike
Italy's state airline Alitalia canceled 138 flights ahead of a planned four-hour protest Saturday by cabin crews, the carrier said. Flight attendants are expected to walk off their jobs between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.


Iberia to cut staff and freeze wages next year
7 October 2005 MADRID - The directors of Spanish airline Iberia are to lay off workers and freeze wages from next year.


Strike action hits Beirut airport
Most flights were cancelled at the almost deserted airport Lebanese air traffic controllers at Beirut's international airport have are holding a 20 hour strike in a protest over pay and working hours.


Wage, age-discrimination suits filed against Marriott / Big hotel chain accused of violating S.F. pay ordinance
By Bob Egelko
Marriott Corp. was hit by employee lawsuits on two fronts Thursday, accused of violating San Francisco's minimum-wage ordinance and of discriminating against older sales managers who failed to fit the company's purported goal of a younger, hipper image.


U.S. Consumers Apprehensive About Economy (AP)
AP - Consumer confidence remains low, with high energy prices, war and fallout from hurricanes Katrina and Rita sapping American's enthusiasm about the nation's economic health and their own.


US loses 35,000 jobs in September (AFP)
AFP - The US economy lost 35,000 jobs in September in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent from 4.9 percent.


Inflation gauge at highest in over 5 yrs (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. inflation pressures climbed in September to their highest in over five years, according to a report on Friday that suggested the Federal Reserve was right to remain vigilant over price increases.


Wholesale inventory growth beats forecast (Reuters)
Reuters - Inventories at U.S. wholesalers rose by a slightly larger-than-expected 0.5 percent in August, Commerce Department data showed on Friday, as stockpiles of petroleum, alcohol and paper climbed.


Snow says China needs to act soon on yuan (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Friday China needs to act "soon" to let its yuan currency become more flexible and he will tell Chinese officials that in person next week.


China summit targets poverty gap
China's leaders are mapping out their policies for the next five years, focusing on economic inequality.


UN concern over African migrants
Kofi Annan says he is "deeply concerned" about the plight of African migrants trying to cross Morocco into Spain.


U.S. Steps Up Effort to Persuade China to Shift on Trade
With U.S. lawmakers threatening a major confrontation with China over trade, the Bush administration will begin a campaign to persuade Chinese leaders that change is in their interest.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Air traffic controllers warn of staffing dangers
The agency noted that it has been in contract negotiations with controllers, who insisted their safety campaign is unrelated to the contract talks.


United Bankruptcy Exit Package OK'd
United Airlines signed off Thursday on a $3 billion all-debt financing package that leaves it in position to exit Chapter 11 in February as targeted after more than three years in bankruptcy.


EU Competition Chief Questions Vacations (AP)
AP - European Union competition chief Neelie Kroes questioned the need for long summer vacations by workers in Europe, saying Thursday that breaks should be spread out in order to boost productivity amid continuing sluggish economic growth.


Skywalker workers start to get restive / Lucasfilm says union has tied up contract discussions
By Dan Fost
Labor trouble is brewing at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch. Lucasfilm, the "Star Wars" creator's corporate entity, accused one of its unions of an unfair labor practice Wednesday, charging in a filing with the National Labor Relations Board...


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Unemployment in Russia up 10.8% in August
MOSCOW, October 3 (RIA Novosti) - Unemployment in Russia grew 10.8% in August to 1.8 million, the Federal State Statistics Service Rosstat said Wednesday. The economically active part of the population amounted to 74. %


Wal-Mart Workers Form Grievance Group
TAMPA, Fla. It's not a union, but some Wal-Mart workers say it might be the next best thing.


Japan to cut civil servant workforce by 10% over 5 years
TOKYO - The government decided Tuesday to cut the number of civil servants by 33,230, or at least 10% of its total workforce as of the end of fiscal 2004, on a net basis over the next five years, officials said.


Labor chiefs in US shake heads at Gulf jobs
Nonunion workers shrug off suspension of pay law, pack bags. With billions of public, private, and insurance dollars pouring into the Gulf Coast, the massive rebuilding effort is expected to attract scores of contractors, carpenters, and electricians from around the country, all eager to find work. But in New England, a key decision by President Bush early in the rebuilding efforts has opened up a sharp division between union and nonunion tradesmen, with several union leaders saying that they will not be able to afford to work in New Orleans while their nonunion counterparts make preparations to go.


Expanding public sector workforce sparks row
The number of employees in the civil service was the same as the previous year, but its ranks were swelled by 12,000 due to the reclassification of the magistrates courts service.


Euro zone jobless rate rises
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Unemployment in the euro zone inched up again in August after a brief dip in July while surging oil prices boosted producer prices, the European Union's statistics office said on Tuesday.


Spain's umemployment numbers are down
MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- The number of registered unemployed in Spain fell by 5,824 in September, down 0.2 percent from August, the Labour Ministry said on Tuesday.


Minimum wage rise in UK not well received by business groups
The increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) which took effect on 1 October has left the UK's main business groups calling for caution. Even those prepared to accept that the latest rise was affordable, and most did not, were unhappy at the thought of the 5.9% jump to £5.35 which is planned for next year.


Georgia-Pacific to Cut 1,100 Jobs
By Associated Press ATLANTA Georgia-Pacific Corp., maker of Brawny paper towels and a variety of other paper and lumber products, said Tuesday it is cutting more than 1,000 jobs in a broad restructuring that aims to save $100 million a year.


FEMA Plans to Hire Temporary Workers
The pay will start at $12 an hour, depending on the job and skills. Priority will be given to disaster victims and residents of the six coastal counties.


Weyerhaeuser to Close Canadian Paper Mill
Weyerhaeuser Co. plans to close a pulp and paper mill in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, early next year, eliminating 690 jobs, the U.S.-based forest products company said Tuesday. It blamed poor market conditions


Shopping on empty / Across the Bay Area, consumers begin to cast a wary eye on spending
By Pia Sarkar
High gas prices have forced Amy Larson to curtail what she loves best: shopping."It's one of my great hobbies" said Larson, 27, of San Francisco. "It's something I bond with my female friends over." But lately, Larson has...


SAN FRANCISCO / School talks collapse -- strike called likely
By Heather Knight
Mediation sessions between the San Francisco Unified School District and Service Employees International Union 790 broke down Sunday night, and SEIU leadership said Monday that a strike was extremely likely.


NWA on-time average declines
In Business
Since Northwest Airlines mechanics walked off the job Aug. 19, the strikers, management, passengers and travel experts strongly disagreed over exactly how the airline was performing. But official statistics released Monday show that 67.2 percent of Northwest flights arrived on time for the entire month of August, according to data collected by the federal Department of Transportation.


NWA mechanics not eligible for benefits, judge rules
In Business
Striking mechanics at Northwest Airlines have been denied state unemployment benefits by a judge who ruled Monday that the airline's final contract offer was reasonable.


EU, Turkey clinch deal on membership talks (Reuters)
Reuters - Turkey and the European Union clinched a historic deal to launch membership talks on Monday despite deep public skepticism over whether the wealthy Western bloc will ever manage to absorb the populous Muslim nation.


US inflation close to danger zone: Dallas Fed chief (AFP)
AFP - US inflation is running close to the Federal Reserve's danger zone, Dallas Fed president Robert Fisher said in comments that suggest the central bank will keep hiking interest rates.


Muslims urge Islamic free trade
Muslim countries are urged to set up an Islamic common market as a way of boosting trade and development.


China 'to keep up steel demand'
Global steel demand will rise by 4% to 5% in both 2005 and 2006, fuelled by China, an industry body says.


British Air boss rules out forced job cuts
Willie Walsh, BA's new boss, rules out any compulsory redundancies as the airline tries to save money.


'Black Tuesday' strike in France
French transport and other industries experience major disruption in a one-day protest against privatisation.


Monday, October 03, 2005

New Orleans labor shortage hobbles business recovery
NEW ORLEANS -- One month after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home and crippled his business, a bedraggled Stephen Cotsoradis sat in his empty, ancient office in the brick warehouse of Gulf Marine & Industrial Supplies.


Hewlett Packard says French job cuts are negotiable
Hewlett Packard is ready to reduce 1,240 job cuts in France, the company said in a newspaper interview following strong political pressure against the restructuring.


Sears Canada Cuts 1,200 Jobs
TORONTO Sears Canada Inc. is cutting 1,200 jobs as part of the department-store operator's promise to improve the productivity of its operations.


Minimum Wages Go Up In American Samoa
By Fili Sagapolutele PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News) - Five local industries, including the government, had their minimum wage rates increased in American Samoa today.


Waging a war over pay
Julie Dougherty, of Bellevue, is having a hard time stretching the money she earns as a waitress being paid $2.83-per-hour plus tips.


Crab fishing reforms divide industry into haves and have-nots
Changes to Alaska's billion-dollar crab fishery have resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs and increased the pressure to make Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal a little Sausalito, open to pleasure craft and development.


Wal-Mart workers organize without union
TAMPA, Fla. -- Searching for a voice in their work lives, employees of some central Florida Wal-Mart stores have formed a workers group to collectively air complaints about what they claim is shoddy treatment by the retail giant.


Microsoft's ex-temps to begin getting checks
Microsoft Corp. this month is expected to begin paying $72 million to nearly 8,600 former contract workers who were part of a 1992 class-action lawsuit claiming they were denied benefits.


Storm costs will plague Minnesota manufacturers
In Business
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita still could be packing a costly punch all winter among Minnesota manufacturers that depend on oil, petrochemicals and other raw materials produced in the Gulf Coast region.


3 union officers relieved of duty
In Business
A Teamsters local representing about 1,700 Honeywell International Inc. workers has been placed in temporary trusteeship after allegations that its officers and two company officials failed to properly process grievances.


FAA inspectors raise questions at Northwest
In Business
On the first day Northwest Airlines began using replacement workers for its striking mechanics, the carrier's chief executive stressed that it was business as usual at the nation's fourth largest airline.


Putin prepares for EU trade talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in London to meet EU leaders with trade and terrorism on the agenda.


Factories boom in Sept after storms-ISM (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. factories ran at their strongest pace for over a year in September, registering large increases in new orders despite a sharp rise in the price of raw materials, according to a survey published on Monday.


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