Tufts nurses approve new contract
The unionized nurses of Tufts Medical Center have approved a new contract Wednesday night, officially ending a long labor dispute that included a contentious strike last summer. “We are very proud of all we have accomplished and how unified our members were in fighting for a fair contract that helps and protects both patients and nurses,” Barbara Tiller, a nurse who co-chairs the union’s bargaining team, said. Union and hospital leaders negotiated their new contract for 20 months. They finally reached a tentative agreement on Dec. 18, at Boston City Hall, where they met at Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s invitation. “We are thrilled that our nurses have voted in favor of ratification,” Dr. Michael Wagner, chief executive of Tufts, said in a statement. The new contract will run for three years and nine months. All nurses will get a 6 percent pay increase over that time, and nurses at the top of the pay scale will get an additional 5 percent increase. (Most nurses, except those at the top of the scale, will continue to receive 5 percent annual step raises, which were not in dispute.) The terms of the new contract went into effect immediately. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY
Citizens to give bonuses following passage of federal tax plan
Another bank is giving bonuses to its employees in the wake of the federal tax plan recently passed by Congress. In a statement released Tuesday, Citizens Financial Group said it will contribute $12.5 million toward one-time $1,000 cash bonuses to an estimated 12,500 employees, as well as $10 million to the Citizens Charitable Foundation. “Corporate tax reform provides us with an opportunity to recognize the role our colleagues have played in delivering better results for customers and shareholders, and to positively impact the communities where we live, work and play,” Bruce Van Saun, chairman and chief executive of Citizens Financial Group, said in a statement. The bank’s charity focuses on programs that strengthen communities, fight hunger, and promote financial literacy. Last month, HarborOne Bank said that it would boost its minimum wage to $15 and give $500 bonuses to more than 600 employees in the wake of the tax plan’s passage. — MARGEAUX SIPPELL
Roku plans a voice-controlled digital assistant
Roku plans to add a voice-controlled digital assistant to its streaming TV players in an attempt to catch up with Google, Apple, and Amazon. Roku’s voice capabilities are currently limited to performing search requests and launching apps. The assistant will be able to field broader requests about video, music, and other tasks tied to entertainment. Still, that’s a much narrower scope than the assistants already available from its bigger rivals in the battle to build digital command centers in people’s homes. Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa can perform tasks and control appliances that have nothing do with entertainment. Roku could fall even further behind before its assistant reaches homes. Although it was announced Wednesday, the assistant won’t be released until this fall as part of a software update. — ASSOCIATED PRESS
falls short of production goals for Model 3
Electric car maker Tesla Inc. has again fallen short of production goals for its new Model 3 sedan. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company made 2,425 Model 3s in the fourth quarter. That’s only a fraction of the 20,000 per month that CEO Elon Musk once promised. But the company exceeded its overall sales targets, delivering 101,312 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs in 2017, up 33 percent over 2016. Tesla says it made significant progress in reducing production bottlenecks toward the end of the fourth quarter. It now expects to be making 20,000 Model 3s per month at the end of the second quarter. More than 500,000 potential buyers are on the waiting list for the Model 3, which is its first lower-cost, high-volume car.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS
Capitol One apologizes for debit transactions problem
Capital One customers around the country awoke on Wednesday to see multiple charges for the same debit card transactions on their accounts. Capital One posted a message on Twitter Wednesday saying the bank was aware of the problem and working on it: ‘‘We apologize that some customers are seeing duplicate debit card transactions & experiencing long phone hold times. All hands are on deck working on a fix & customers won’t be responsible for any fees due to this issue.’’ It was not immediately clear how the errors occurred or how many customers were affected. Inquiries to Capital One were not immediately returned. Twitter was full of messages from angry customers complaining of multiple charges for the same transaction against their checking accounts. — WASHINGTON POST
BlackBerry teams up with Chinese Internet giant
BlackBerry Ltd.’s efforts to push into self-driving cars took a new step forward as the former smartphone maker signed a deal with Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc. to work together on automotive software. Baidu will bundle BlackBerry’s QNX vehicle operating system into its Apollo self-driving car platform, a set of tools that automakers can use when designing autonomous vehicles. The partnership also includes integrating BlackBerry’s more established in-car entertainment software into Apollo. BlackBerry’s QNX unit has long been a leader in building systems to run entertainment and mapping programs in cars. — BLOOMBERG NEWS
New rules go into effect in Europe to prevent another financial crisis
New rules to protect investors, improve market transparency and honesty, and prevent another financial crisis went into effect on Wednesday in Europe. The regulations are more than a million paragraphs long, took six years to write and approve and had to be delayed by a year. And despite Wednesday’s start date, they still haven’t been passed into national law by more than half the European Union’s 28 member states. The so-called MiFID II rules will have broad impact on how stocks, bonds, and investments are traded.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sugar shortage is over
Forget the sugar shortages of the past two years. This season’s glut is now forecast to be big enough to completely erase that. Aided by favorable Asian rains, global supply will beat demand by 10.4 million metric tons in 2017-18, 26 percent more than the combined deficits in the past two seasons, according to researcher Green Pool Commodity Specialists. The glut is forecast to be the biggest in five years and compares with an October estimate of 9.8 million tons. — BLOOMBERG NEWS
Germany’s unemployment rate at a record low
Germany’s unemployment rate fell to a record low as the number of people out of work slid for a sixth month, reflecting a boom in Europe’s largest economy that could push up wages and inflation. The jobless rate was 5.5 percent in December, and the previous month’s rate was revised down to the same level, the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg said on Wednesday. The number of unemployed plunged by 29,000 last month, more than twice as much as the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS
Petrobras to pay $2.95b to settle lawsuit in US over corruption scandal
Petróleo Brasileiro, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, said Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $2.95 billion to settle a shareholder lawsuit in the United States over a corruption scandal that has ensnared dozens of politicians and corporate executives, including two former Brazilian presidents. Prosecutors, in a long-running investigation known as Operation Carwash, have claimed that a small number of top officials at the company, known as Petrobras, conspired with a group of other companies to overcharge Petrobras for construction and service work, receiving bribes in return. The ensuing scandal and vast investigation has implicated dozens of high-level figures like former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff. Corruption allegations have also dogged the current president, Michel Temer, and several of his close allies. Petrobras officials believe nearly $3 billion in bribes were paid as part of the scheme, which allegedly included gifts of Rolex watches, $3,000 bottles of wine, yachts, helicopters, and prostitutes. — NEW YORK TIMES