GE, unions, reach agreement on new contract


GE, unions, reach agreement on new contract

Unions who represent some 6,600 General Electric employees in the United States have ratified a new contract agreement, helping the company quell some labor unrest among its ranks. The Boston-based company and the union leadership thought they had a deal when they reached a four-year agreement in June. But the proposal failed to get enough votes from the IUE-CWA — the largest of GE’s unions, representing about 4,000 workers — after members who work at GE Aviation in Lynn and GE Power in Schenectady, N.Y., rejected it. Then members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers who work at plants in Ohio and Wisconsin rejected the terms as well, and set a strike date of Aug. 12. Both sides went back and quickly reached a new deal, one with additional pay increases and a smaller increase in health care contributions. The IAM members approved the new contract last week, and the IUE-CWA approved it on Tuesday. — JON CHESTO


Macy’s lowers earnings guidance after slashing prices on unsold merchandise

Macy’s lowered its annual earnings guidance after the department store struggled with a big earnings miss during the second quarter as it was forced to slash prices on unsold merchandise. The department store said Wednesday a combination of factors including a fashion miss, slow sell-through of warm weather clothing, and an accelerating decline in international tourism led to rising inventory levels. Macy’s also raised another red flag: shoppers don’t have an appetite for higher prices in a ballooning US trade war with China. Macy’s was forced to raise prices on some luggage, housewares, and furniture to offset the costs of a 25 percent tariff implemented in May on those types of goods. Retailers are bracing for a 10 percent tariff targeting items like toys, clothing, and shoes that had been scheduled for September. Some of those items have now been delayed until December. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Vaping industry sues to delay government review

A vaping industry group sued the US government on Wednesday to delay an upcoming review of thousands of e-cigarettes on the market. The legal challenge by the Vapor Technology Association is the latest hurdle in the Food and Drug Administration’s yearslong effort to regulate the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which includes makers and retailers of e-cigarette devices and flavored solutions. The vaping group argued that the latest deadline of next May to submit products for review could wipe out many of the smaller companies. E-cigarettes first appeared in the United States more than a decade ago and have grown in popularity despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they can help smokers quit cigarettes. In recent years, health authorities have warned of an epidemic of vaping by underage teenagers, particularly the leading brand Juul, known for its high nicotine content and easy-to-conceal device, which resembles a flash drive. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Ford extends some warranties over transmission woes

Ford is extending the warranties on about 560,000 small cars in the United States and Canada to cover a litany of problems with a troubled six-speed automatic transmission. The company is facing lawsuits and complaints about the transmissions which can lurch into gear or feel like they are slipping. The latest move covers 2014 through 2016 model year Focuses built before Nov. 5, 2015, as well as 2014 and 2015 Fiestas built before Oct. 15, 2014. It extends clutch warranties to seven years or 100,000 miles. The warranty on the transmission control computer goes to 10 years or 150,000 miles. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Uber stock falls to a record low

Uber Technologies Inc. shares, which have spent more time below their recent IPO price than above it, fell to a record low Wednesday, as market sentiment broadly soured on fears of a global slowdown and amid lingering disappointment with last week’s second-quarter report, according to analysts. The stock dropped 6.83 percent to $33.96, the lowest price since its May debut, as major averages slumped 2 percent. Uber has lost 24 percent of its value since it began trading, with much of that slide occurring in the week since its earnings, which came on the heels of a better-than-expected report from ride-hailing competitor Lyft Inc. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Large pink diamond could bring up to $65m

A 14.83-carat pink gem is expected to fetch one of the highest prices ever for a diamond when the Russian company puts it up for sale later this year. The Spirit of the Rose may be one of the most expensive pink stones ever, according to Eden Rachminov, the chairman of the board of the Fancy Color Research Foundation, and could fetch between $60 million to $65 million. Colored diamonds, formed by impurities such as boron or nitrogen, are the most expensive and rarest, with pink and red stones fetching the highest prices. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


FHA-backed mortgages extended to more first-time buyers

The Federal Housing Administration is changing regulations to make it easier for more first-time condo buyers to receive mortgages. The federal agency released new guidelines Wednesday for the types of mortgages it will insure at condominiums. Just 6.5 percent of the 150,000 condominium developments in the United States were previously eligible for FHA-backed mortgages. But the FHA will start backing mortgages for individual units and will have greater flexibility to react to changes in market conditions.



Pregnant woman sues American Airlines over comfort animal

A pregnant Florida woman is suing American Airlines, claiming she and her emotional support dog were mistreated by a flight attendant on an April trip from Miami to Los Angeles. News outlets reported that Avigail Diveroli is seeking at least $75,000 in damages in the negligence lawsuit . It says she suffers from severe anxiety and confirmed with the airline twice that her ‘‘medically necessary comfort animal,’’ Simba, could travel with her. Once on the plane, the lawsuit says, an attendant screamed at Diveroli saying the dog could not be in the cabin because it’s an FAA violation. The suit says the berating continued as the attendant downgraded Diveroli from business class and quarantined the dog in a bathroom. A representative for American Airlines told outlets they would not comment.


Struggling Pandora to sell jewelry based on Harry Potter

Pandora will introduce a jewelry collection based on the characters of the Harry Potter franchise as part of efforts to relaunch the brand after suffering a set back in key markets and falling out of favor among investors. The Copenhagen-based company has signed a contract with Warner Bros. that will allow it to sell 12 new products, including charms, pendants, and a bracelet, from late November, according to a statement on Wednesday. Pandora already has an agreement with Walt Disney Co. to sell Disney-themed products in most parts of the world. — BLOOMBERG NEWS