Purcell reaches agreement with three Boston Herald unions in advance of sale


Purcell reaches agreement with three Boston Herald unions in advance of sale

Boston Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell has reached an agreement with three of the newspaper’s unions, allowing the company to be sold free of preexisting collective bargaining contracts. Purcell is using bankruptcy court to sell the newspaper, which has been losing money amid sharp losses in ad revenue that have besieged the entire industry. Purcell said the three unions are the Communications Workers of America, the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston Local 31032, and the New York Typographical Union Local 14156. Purcell said negotiations continue with the Herald’s fourth union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25. As part of the agreement with the unions, the successful bidder will make job offers to at least 175 Herald employees and recognize their vacation and severance rights. Purcell announced an agreement with GateHouse Media in December to sell the Herald to GateHouse through the bankruptcy process. Revolution Capital Group has since submitted a competing bid, and other bidders may emerge before a Feb. 13 auction. The new owner is expected to have bargaining discussions with the unions following the sale. — JON CHESTO


Propane users are urged to stock up

Propane dealers are urging customers to stock up now, before the next cold snap. The Propane Gas Association is asking customers who don’t have automatic deliveries to check their supply now and schedule deliveries at least 10 days in advance. The cold stretch from late December into January caused an unexpected increase in demand. Michael Todd from the New Hampshire governor’s office said demand for propane and oil was up by as much as 45 percent and that propane supplies are currently low. Several ships heading to New England with propane should alleviate the shortage. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Daimler suspends executive tied to monkey tests

Automaker Daimler says it has suspended an executive who represented it at an industry-backed organization that commissioned diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys. A statement from Daimler AG on Wednesday did not identify by name the executive, citing privacy concerns. It said the executive sat on the top management board of the now-dissolved EUGT entity. The tests have been criticized by politicians, environmentalists, and animal welfare activists. Volkswagen on Tuesday suspended its head of external relations, who said he knew about the experiments but did not inform the company’s then-CEO, Martin Winterkorn. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Companies added 234,000 jobs in January

US businesses continued to hire at a healthy pace in January, a sign the economy is off to a solid start for the year. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 234,000 jobs, led by big gains at service organizations such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, schools, and health care operators. Job gains at that pace are easily enough to drive down an already-low unemployment rate over time. The rate has remained at 4.1 percent for the past three months. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Nintendo profit jumps on success of Switch hybrid game machine

Japanese video game maker Nintendo’s net profit jumped 31 percent to 135.2 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in April-December, helped by the popularity of its Switch hybrid game machine, the company said Wednesday. Kyoto-based Nintendo, which makes Super Mario and Pokemon games, said its sales in the first nine months of 2017 more than doubled from a year earlier to 857 billion yen ($7.9 billion). Profit in October-December was 83.7 billion yen ($771 million), up 29 percent year-on-year, it said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


This time, Uber goes with bikes

It’s Uber, but for bicycles. For the first time in Uber’s history, the company is offering rides on something other than cars. Starting next week, it will let certain users in San Francisco reserve pedal-assist electric bicycles through its app. The idea is that people will see the bicycles as a cheaper and faster alternative — not a huge stretch of the imagination for anyone who has been stuck in Friday evening gridlock traffic in San Francisco. Uber is not supplying its own bicycles. It is working with Jump Bikes, a bike-sharing service that secured a permit in January to put 250 motorized bicycles — making it easier to tackle San Francisco’s steep hills — in locations throughout the city. — NEW YORK TIMES



Shares in H & M drop as it struggles to adapt to online shopping

Shares in low-cost fashion brand H & M plunged Wednesday after the Swedish company said it was having trouble adapting to a rapid and global shift to online shopping among consumers. The company said its profits fell 33 percent in the fourth quarter, to 3.99 billion kronor ($506 million), with sales dropping 2 percent to 50.4 million kronor ($6.4 million). It said ‘‘the industry changes are challenging everyone and this will continue in 2018.’’ CEO Karl-Johan Persson said that the digitalization of shopping ‘‘is driving the need to transform and re-think faster and faster.’’ He said the group’s performance was ‘‘clearly below our expectations.’’ Sales were weak at the physical stores, where ‘‘the changes in customer behavior are being felt most strongly and footfall has reduced with more sales online,’’ Persson said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Revlon names chairman’s daughter chief operating officer

Revlon appointed Debra Perelman — the daughter of chairman and largest investor Ron Perelman — as chief operating officer in the wake of chief executive Fabian Garcia’s departure. The shake-up marks less than two years in the job for Garcia, a Colgate-Palmolive Co. veteran who laid out plans to reach $5 billion in annual sales within five years. (Revenue is currently less than $3 billion.) The younger Perelman, who has served on Revlon’s board since 2015, will take on more responsibility, overseeing parts of marketing, sales, and research and development. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Hostess to offer free Twinkies, Ding Dongs to workers

Hostess Brands Inc., feeling flush after last month’s tax overhaul, will offer bonuses to workers — including free snacks. The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho Hos, is providing its employees one-time payments of $1,250 — with $750 in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In taking the step, Hostess cited last month’s tax legislation, which slashed the rate for US corporations. It’s also offering a year’s worth of free food to workers. A representative from each of Hostess’s bakeries will choose a product each week, and the employees will be able to take home a multipack of that item. The company also makes Hostess CupCakes, Fruit Pies, and Donettes. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


US wages and benefits grew 2.6% last year

US workers’ wages and benefits grew 2.6 percent last year, the fastest 12-month pace since the spring of 2015. The 12-month gain in wages and benefits came despite a slight slowdown at the end of last year with wages and benefits rising 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, a tiny dip from a 0.7 percent gain in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Still, the 12-month gain was an improvement from a 2.2 percent gain for the 12 months ending in December 2016. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump touted the rise in wages as an accomplishment of his economic program. But private economists contend that wages should be rising at a faster pace given that unemployment is now at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS