GE employees in Lynn reject contract

A contract agreement for some 6,600 General Electric employees has been rejected, raising the possibility that union members who work for GE could go out on strike. Negotiators for the Boston-based industrial conglomerate and unions who represent thousands of its US workers had reached a tentative agreement last month after 21 days of negotiations in Cincinnati. But a majority of members of IUE-CWA locals in Lynn and Schenectady, N.Y., have voted to reject that agreement. One of the big sticking points: rising health care contributions. Per the union’s rules, when a majority of members at a particular site votes “no,” the entire membership at that location is counted as voting “no.” As a result, enough votes were tallied to nix the contract agreement, even though a majority of IUE-CWA members across all GE locations supported it. GE said it’s working with IUE-CWA leadership to evaluate the next steps. Meanwhile, leaders at the IUE-CWA Local 201 that represents workers at the GE Aviation plant in Lynn recommended that employees report to work and prepare for a strike. — JON CHESTO


Britain’s health service to use Alexa to answer medical questions from patients

Alexa will see you now. Britain’s health care service is teaming up with Amazon’s digital voice assistant to help answer medical queries with advice from the service’s official website. The British government said Wednesday that the system can help senior citizens, blind people, and others who find it hard to access the Internet. Using Amazon’s algorithms, Alexa will answer voice questions from users about common maladies such as the flu or chickenpox with information verified by the National Health Service. Amazon sought to reassure users that their information will be kept confidential and not shared with third parties, adding that voice recordings can be deleted. Privacy campaigners, however, said they are concerned about the partnership and its implications because Amazon has a worrying track record on handling user data. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



New York expands law prohibiting pay discrimination

New York state has expanded a state law prohibiting gender pay discrimination, making it illegal to pay someone less based on factors such as their race, religion, or gender identity. The new law also changes a legal standard for pay equity to make it easier for employees to prove discrimination in court. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the changes into law Wednesday in Manhattan, just before joining the US women’s soccer team for a parade honoring their World Cup victory. Cuomo said he supports female players in their quest for pay equal to that of male players. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Britain wants to require sites to verify that users are adults

The global push to more tightly regulate the Internet and big tech firms is spreading to one of the Web’s biggest and least visible corners: porn. The British government wants to require porn websites to verify their users are adults. The effort is being watched by other countries hoping to better regulate pornographic content but has raised concerns about privacy, censorship, and competition. It has run into multiple delays that reflect the confusion surrounding it. Under the plan, which is now expected to come into force late this year, British porn site visitors will be asked to prove they are 18 or older. Options to do so would include buying a card with an access code in a shop, where they will have to show photo ID, or going online to submit a copy of a passport or driver’s license or use a credit card. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Tesla to increase production at California plant

Tesla Inc. is poised to increase production at its California car plant and is back in hiring mode, according to an internal e-mail sent days after the company wrapped up a record quarter of deliveries. The electric-car maker is “making preparations” to raise output at its factory in Fremont, Calif., Jerome Guillen, Tesla’s automotive president, wrote Tuesday. After several rounds of job cuts announced by chief executive Elon Musk over the past year, Guillen also told employees that Tesla is hiring. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Nintendo to sell cheaper version of Switch console

Nintendo Co. introduced a new, cheaper, version of its portable Switch gaming console, as the Japanese company seeks to expand the potential market for games. The Switch Lite will retail for $199.99, or $100 less than the original device. The new console will be released Sept. 20 and will come in yellow, gray, and turquoise, the company said in a statement.


Microsoft to move near Apple’s flagship London store

Apple Inc.’s flagship central London retail store gets a new neighbor on Thursday, as Microsoft Corp. opens its inaugural European high-street presence just feet away. Microsoft has taken over three floors and 22,000 square feet of a historic building on the corner of Oxford and Regent streets — London’s central shopping thoroughfare — originally designed in 1912. Technology giants’ push to open flashy stores to showcase their devices and software has proven to be one of the few bright spots for the UK’s ailing retail industry, which has been beset by bankruptcies, store closures, and rent cuts. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Marriott hit on two fronts for online reservation issues

Marriott International was hit by legal consequences related to its online reservations for guests from both the District of Columbia and Britain on Tuesday. The District’s attorney general filed a complaint accusing the Bethesda, Md.-based hotel and resort company of deceiving guests making online reservations of room prices. ‘‘For at least the last decade, Marriott has used an unlawful trade practice called ‘drip pricing’ in advertising its hotel rooms whereby Marriott initially hides a portion of a hotel room’s daily rate from consumers,’’ the complaint read. The complaint said Marriott refers to these additional mandatory fees ranging from $9 to $95 per day, which aren’t advertised as included in the room price on the company’s website or other third-party sites such as Expedia and Priceline, as a ‘‘resort fee,’’ ‘‘amenity fee’’ or destination fee.’’ Because of that, the complaint says, customers booking rooms online are misled into thinking the room is cheaper than it actually is. Marriott was also notified by the United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office on Tuesday that it plans to fine the company more than 99 million pounds ($123 million), after investigating a data breach of guest reservations for Starwood hotels. — WASHINGTON POST


Mazda recalling more than 262,000 cars and SUVs over stalling problem

Mazda is recalling more than 262,000 SUVs and cars in the United States to fix a software problem that could cause the engines to stall unexpectedly. The recall covers certain Mazda6 midsize sedans and CX-5 SUVs from the 2018 and 2019 model years. Also included are Mazda3 small cars from 2019. Mazda traced the problem to a software error in the computer that controls the valves as part of the vehicles’ fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology. The company said in government documents posted Wednesday that drivers won’t get any warning before the engine stalls. Mazda said no crashes or injuries have been reported because of the problem. Dealers will reprogram the software at no cost to owners. The recall is expected to start before Aug. 26. — ASSOCIATED PRESS