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NATION



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



NATION

NLRB favors Wal-Mart vote

DENVER -- The National Labor Relations Board ruled Friday that employees at a Colorado Wal-Mart tire department may hold a union election.

An election will likely be scheduled for late February, NLRB spokesman Wayne Benson said. If a majority of workers vote for organizing, it would mark the first time in several years that a union has gained a foothold in a U.S. outlet of the world's largest retailer.

In the only other such instance, meatcutters at Texas Wal-Mart voted in 2000 to be represented by a union before Wal-Mart eliminated that job category companywide, a move the retailer said was unrelated to the vote.

Mechanics may strike

CHICAGO -- United Airlines' mechanics rejected a tentative contract agreement and voted to authorize a strike if the carrier persuades a bankruptcy judge to impose the labor cuts, union officials said Friday.

The vote is a setback in United's bid to cut costs in order to exit bankruptcy. The company said Friday that it would ask a bankruptcy judge to impose the wage and benefit cuts on mechanics, which would save about $100 million annually.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association represents about 7,000 United mechanics. The union said members "overwhelmingly" rejected the contract, although it did not release vote totals.

The union said the cuts total more than 18 percent when reductions in benefits such as sick time and holidays are included.

Molson, Coors to merge

MONTREAL -- Shareholders of Canada's biggest brewer, Molson Inc., on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor of merging with Adolph Coors Co., the third-largest brewery in the United States.

The $6 billion merger would form the world's fifth-largest brewery if Coors shareholders also approve next Tuesday, as widely expected.

The combined Molson Coors Brewing Co., with headquarters both in Montreal and Denver, would own brands that include Coors Original, Coors Light, Keystone, Molson Canadian and Carling.

McDonald's triples profits

CHICAGO -- Strong U.S. sales helped McDonald's Corp. more than triple its fourth-quarter profits to $398 million, capping the fast-food chain's best single-year sales improvement since 1987.

Intent on keeping the momentum going, the company raised the possibility Friday it might spin off its Chipotle Mexican Grill business and plow much of the proceeds into McDonald's restaurants. That 400-restaurant operation has grown and is proving increasingly successful, it said.

The same can be said for results from the 13,000-plus U.S. McDonald's restaurants, where the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company extended its nearly two-year hot streak.

Vindicator wire reports




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