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Archive for Friday, April 6, 2001

BUSINESS BRIEFCASE FOR FRIDAY

April 6, 2001

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heading to Mexico

Mattel Inc. is closing its last toy factory in the United States -- a western Kentucky plant that produced such things as Barbie playhouses and battery-powered pickups for nearly 30 years.

The company is shifting production at the 980-employee Murray, Ky., plant to existing factories in Mexico.

The plant was opened by Fisher-Price in 1973 and was acquired by Mattel in 1993. The layoffs are to begin in June as part of a companywide restructuring announced last fall. Seven distribution centers will remain in the United States, in Hebron, Ky., and in California, Texas and Wisconsin.

Products made at the Murray plant in recent years include child car seats, Barbie Jeeps and playground equipment.

COMMUNICATIONS

Winstar to cut jobs,

halts expansion

Winstar Communications Inc. said it will cut its work force by 40 percent and halt the expansion of its communications networks for the rest of the year.

The New York-based company is the latest telecommunications firm to cut capital spending in the face of the slowing economy.

Winstar has been building a wireless broadband network in the United States. About 5,400 office buildings with 150,000 companies are hooked up to the network, which offers local and long-distance phone service, Internet access and data transport mainly to business customers. The company currently serves about 32,000 customers.

Instead of expanding its facilities, Winstar said it would focus on signing up customers who already have access to the network.

SLOWDOWN

Agilent Technologies

to cut staff pay

Agilent Technologies Inc. will cut its workers' pay by 10 percent as it attempts to deal with declining demand without firing staff it will need later.

"We view the economic slowdown as a business cycle, even though it's deepening and broadening," Ned Barnholt, Agilent's president and chief executive officer, said Thursday. "We believe this pay reduction is the most appropriate action for us. We value our work force and need to be ready to meet demand as business conditions improve."

The pay cuts will save about $70 million per quarter, helping Agilent deal with flat revenue in the second quarter, which ends April 30. Revenue was $2.84 billion last quarter.

Agilent makes instruments used to test telecommunications equipment and semiconductors. It also makes computer chips and parts for fiber optic networks.

BOTTLING COMPANY

Pepsi starts hiring

after pact rejected

Pepsi Cola General Bottlers has begun the process of hiring permanent replacements for striking hourly workers who voted down a contract offer despite their union's recommendation to ratify it.

Nearly 200 hourly workers at a can production plant in Kansas City, Mo., and a distribution center in suburban Olathe, Kan., went on strike in February after their contract expired. Some of the strikers have returned to work since then, both sides said.

A contract that would have increased pay of most workers by $2 an hour over five years was recommended by the bargaining committee of Teamsters Local 838. But John Beckett, the local's vice president, said that 62 percent of the members voting on the proposed agreement rejected ratification.

Kathleen McCabe, Pepsi's chief negotiator, said that following the rejection "we have resumed that process and are making offers to prospective employees."

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