Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Business digest

Unions gain GOP votes against comp time bill

WASHINGTON - Labor unions fighting legislation to loosen overtime pay requirements have won the support of a dozen or so moderate House Republicans, sending the GOP searching for Democratic votes to save the bill before a vote Thursday.

Union members are flooding lawmakers with visits, phone calls and e-mails, urging them to oppose the measure, the "Family Time Flexibility Act."

The White House supports the bill, and its lobbyists were meeting with lawmakers Tuesday.

The measure would let some employees who work more than 40 hours in a week choose between premium pay or compensatory time off scheduled at a later date, both at a 11/2 hourly rate. It is now illegal for private companies to offer comp time to workers covered by the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.

Labor leaders say workers would face longer hours for less pay if the overtime pay requirement is lifted.

Toys 'R' Us to join with Albertsons stores

PARAMUS, N.J. - Toys "R" Us Inc. said Tuesday it agreed to become the exclusive toy provider at all Albertsons Inc. food and drug stores.

Under the agreement, Albertsons, the second-largest supermarket chain in the United States, will become the exclusive Toys "R" Us grocery and drug partner in most of the markets in which the company operates.

Eased media rules to likely face challenges

WASHINGTON - Newly relaxed rules governing ownership of newspapers and TV and radio stations face a gantlet of challenges in the courts and in Congress.

The eased restrictions approved by the Federal Communications Commission allow companies to own television stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and to own newspapers and TV and radio stations in the same city.

Critics said that despite Monday's 3-2 vote, they would keep fighting changes they say could put a few giant companies in control of what most people see, hear and read.

End of line for Chevy Cavalier with 2005

DETROIT - General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division is dropping the Cavalier with the 2005 model year as it tries for a more youthful-oriented entry-level car.

A spokeswoman would not say where the new vehicle will be built, but GM has said its next-generation small car will be built at the Lordstown, Ohio, plant.

Lower Cenestin dose rejected, Barr says

Barr Laboratories Inc., the third- biggest U.S. maker of birth-control pills, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected the company's application to sell a lower dosage of its hormone treatment for menopause symptoms.

Barr - which bought Pleasant Ridge-based drug maker Duramed Pharmaceuticals in fall 2001 - sells the drug Cenestin in four other dose strengths. The rejection won't affect Pomona, New York-based Barr's other Cenestin products, company spokeswoman Carol Cox said.

N.Y. brokerage plans to stake claim in Iraq

NEW YORK - New York brokerage firm Auerbach Grayson wants to be the early bird that gets the worm in Iraq's war-trodden financial markets.

A week after the Bush administration officially lifted sanctions against Iraq, the company announced Monday it's seeking a brokerage partner in Baghdad specializing in equities to join its global operations.

From wire reports

SARS scare boosts sales
Pickups, SUVs drive U.S. vehicle sales in May
Fed chief likes outlook
Martha Stewart faces possible charges
PEALE: What's the Buzz?
GM improving in a difficult year, chairman says
Shares of IBM fall at news of SEC probe
Mortgage rates go even farther into basement
Tristate summary
Business digest
Morning memo