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Economic News Briefs

Spike Lee directs ads for ailing KmartTROY, Mich. – Director Spike Lee is lending a hand to ailing Kmart Corp.

An advertising campaign that begins airing Sunday features three, 30-second spots television spots made by the famed film director.

The ads show families discussing household tasks: doing laundry, making dinner and giving children baths. In one, a man says: “Everybody’s got to buy a plunger sometime.” Another man, holding an infant, says: “Sleep past 7? What is that?”

The tagline is “Kmart. The Stuff of Life.”

The goal of the campaign, which also features print ads, “is to build an emotional bond with the consumer by re-establishing the role Kmart plays in its shoppers’ lives,” said Steven Feuling, Kmart senior vice president of marketing.

Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month after struggling to compete with less expensiveWal-Mart employees file suit over overtimeNORMAN, Okla. – Two former Wal-Mart employees are suing the retail giant for allegedly forcing workers to put in extra hours without pay.

Diana Bell and Jennifer Heilman filed the District Court lawsuit Thursday on behalf of workers in 85 stores around Oklahoma.

Named in the suit were Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and its managers.

Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said he had not seen the lawsuit but the allegations “would appear to be incorrect.”

“The guiding rule for our company is respect for the individual,” he said.

The lawsuit accuses Wal-Mart of a “clandestine scheme” of failing to properly pay workers – allegedly assigning tasks that can’t be completed within a shift, and then pressuring employees to work off the clock and during breaks to complete the job.Post office decision is sweet for beekeepersSPRINGFIELD, Mass. – In a sweet victory for beekeepers, the U.S. Postal Service has lifted a ban on the shipment of honeybees from southern states to waiting hives in the north.

The ruling Thursday overturned a policy instituted last October by a regional manager in Georgia that would have limited bee shipments to 600 miles.

The policy was in response to complaints about bees dying during shipment and spills of a sweet syrup used to feed the bees during transit.

“We were so happy we broke out the champagne,” Reg Wilbanks, president of Wilbanks Apiaries Inc., said of the ruling.DM&E, I&M workers represented by unionsSIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad’s planned purchase of the I&M Rail Link could spark a battle between two rival labor unions.

Workers for the DM&E, headquartered in Brookings, are represented by the United Transportation Union. The I&M is represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

On Thursday, the DM&E announced it plans to buy I&M, which operates track in five states and connects Chicago and St. Paul, Minn., with Kansas City, Mo.

DM&E President and CEO Kevin Schieffer said he expects no regulatory trouble and hopes the deal can be approved and financed by the middle of this year.

The DM&E has received final approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board for a $1.5 billion project to build a new rail line to haul coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and fix existing track from western South Dakota through southern Minnesota.Northrop makes surprise move on TRWNEW YORK – In a bid to gain a strong foothold in the lucrative military satellite market, defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. made a surprise $5.9 billion offer Friday to buy TRW Inc.

TRW shares soared more than 26 percent in response to the unsolicited bid, closing above the offering price on speculation that other bidders – such as rivals General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. or Boeing Co. – could emerge, or that Northrop might raise its bid.

In an interview, Northrop chief executive Kent Kresa called the bid “a very fair offer.” TRW labeled it low and “regrettable,” coming just days after its chief executive announced his departure – news that had pushed the company’s stock down.Computer Associates insists it’s doing OKNEW YORK – Computer Associates confirmed the software maker is being scrutinized by federal investigators, but refuted reports that the doubts enveloping the company had forced it to draw on a credit line to cover short-term debt.

In a conference call Friday, CA executives said the company contacted investigators after newspapers reported this week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. attorney’s office were coordinating a preliminary investigation of the company’s accounting. That probe reportedly focuses on whether the firm deliberately overstated profits to inflate its stock price and enrich executives. the right to name 8 of 11 board members.

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