THURS BIZ BRIEFS 10.04

MICHIGAN

UAW-GM pact puts 15

factories on shaky ground

n DETROIT – In the document that spells out the tentative pact between General Motors Corp. and the UAW, their futures are listed as: “demand and business case dependent,” “no future product allocation,” or even possible sale or closure.

Fifteen factories in places such as Orion Township; Wentzville, Mo.; and Wilmington, Del.; have been left on shaky ground by the pact that the United Auto Workers hailed as having won unprecedented job security from GM.

Most of the 15 factories will see their current work go out of production in 2011, when the four-year contract would expire, with the next generation of their main products listed as dependent on demand and business cases, according to a UAW document called the “white book” that spells out contract details. The automaker has 58 factories in the United States.

NEW YORK

Service sector reports

slow growth in September

n NEW YORK – The shriveled housing market may be a drag on U.S. business activity, but it hasn’t stopped it. The nation’s service economy, like its manufacturing sector, slowed in September but still saw growth.

The service sector hasn’t seen a month of contraction in four-and-a-half years, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly reports.

The ISM’s index gauging the health of non-manufacturing industries registered at 54.8 in September. That’s down from 55.8 in August and below the 12-month high of 60.7 reached in June, but above 50 – the threshold between expansion and contraction.

The trade group’s index, now at its lowest point since March, was in line with economist estimates.

Wal-Mart to pay additional damages in worker claims

n PHILADELPHIA – Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania who previously won a $78.5 million class-action award for working off the clock will share an additional $62.3 million in damages, a judge ruled Wednesday.

About 125,000 people will receive $500 each in damages under a state law invoked when a company, without cause, withholds pay for more than 30 days.

A Philadelphia jury last year awarded the workers the exact amount they had sought, rejecting Wal-Mart’s claim that some people chose to work through breaks or that a few minutes of extra work here and there was insignificant.

Similar suits charging that Wal-Mart violated state wage laws are in play across the country.

A California trial ended with a $172 million verdict that Wal-Mart is appealing while the Bentonville, Ark.-based company settled a Colorado suit for $50 million.