St. Louis grocers accept contract, end strikes
More than 10,000 union grocery workers headed back to work after agreeing to a new contract Friday, ending a 3 1/2-week strike and lockout at the St. Louis region's three largest supermarket chains.
The agreement, reached Wednesday with the help of a federal mediator, was approved 4,174 to 945, well over the required simple majority.
"Go back to work," Bob Kelley, above, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655, shouted to cheering members.
Friday's vote ended a strike at 97 Schnuck Markets, Dierbergs Markets and Shop 'n Save Warehouse Foods stores on the Missouri side of the St. Louis area.
Consumer spending dips
Consumers kept a tighter grip on their wallets in September, trimming spending by 0.3 percent after a summertime shopping spree that propelled a third quarter of strong economic growth.
The largest over-the-month decrease in spending in a year, reported Friday by the Commerce Department, came after consumer spending shot up by 1 percent in July and then another 1.1 percent in August. Consumers spent more lavishly earlier as they began to see the cash from President Bush's third round of tax cuts.
Economists had said before Friday's report that the brisk pace of spending -- which helped spur a 7.2 percent annual rate of growth in the third quarter -- just couldn't be sustained. They had predicted that shoppers would rein in their finances in September, and they did just that.
Oneida to cut 1,000 jobs
Oneida Ltd. is closing its manufacturing plant in Buffalo, N.Y., and four plants in Mexico, China and Italy as it adjusts to slumping sales and tries to return to profitability.
The closings will eliminate approximately 1,000 manufacturing jobs at the 123-year-old company, the world's largest maker and distributor of flatware and tableware, and leave it with just its original manufacturing operations in its home base of Oneida.
The company, based in Oneida, N.Y., will close its 100-year-old Buffalo China dinnerware factory and decorating facility in Buffalo, eliminating 350 jobs. No final decision has been made about closing the Buffalo China warehouse in Buffalo, which employs another 100 workers.
Cigna's profits increase
Cigna Corp. said it swung to a profit in the third quarter, but the employee benefits provider said membership in its medical plans continued to decline. Its share price surged nearly 20 percent.
Cigna beat analysts' expectations on Friday by reporting net income of $195 million, or $1.39 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compared with a net loss of $877 million, or $6.27 a share, for the third quarter of 2002, during which the company took a hit on the cost of exiting the reinsurance business.
Revenues dropped to $4.77 billion from $5.08 billion a year earlier.