Flight Attendants Question Safety

Flight attendants at Northwest Airlines are expressing concern about the safety of the carrier's planes as a strike by the company's mechanics entered its fifth day. Members of the Professional Flight Attendants Association have called union offices complaining that replacement mechanics don't know how to make some repairs and that delays are frustrating customers, spokesman Bob Krabbe said.

Northwest hired 1,300 replacement workers in contingency plan devised before the strike began Aug. 20. The mechanics walked out over the Eagan, Minn.-based carrier's proposal to cut $176 million in pay, benefits and jobs in an effort to reduce labor costs by $1.1 billion. Northwest said Monday that it expects to complete 96 percent of its 9,900 flights this week. No new talks between the company and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association are planned.


GE Chief Buys More Shares

General Electric chief executive Jeffrey R. Immelt, left, bought 10,000 shares of stock for $341,300, according to a regulatory filing, his second direct purchase from open markets this year. The purchase brings Immelt's direct company holdings to 769,056 shares valued at about $26 million, not counting 19,391 shares in his 401(k) plan, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2002, GE's board required Immelt to hold stock with a value of at least six times his salary, a mark he continues to exceed, according to SEC filings.

GE Invests in Offshore Gas

General Electric, which has invested in onshore oil and gas for more than a decade, said it will invest more than $100 million in a limited partnership with Houston-based F-W Oil Exploration to produce natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico. GE also plans to finance the completion of a 48-mile pipeline system to transport 30 million cubic feet of gas per day from F-W's fields in the South Padre Island area 12 miles offshore of Texas.


Teamsters Target DHL Workers

Deutsche Post's DHL package-delivery unit is the target of an organizing campaign by the Teamsters union for 20,000 U.S. contract workers as the company tries to increase its U.S. business. The workers pick up, deliver and sort packages for DHL, "essentially the same work" as 225,000 Teamsters members at bigger rival United Parcel Service, union General Secretary C. Thomas Keegel said. The union already represents 9,000 DHL workers.


Gap Opens New Chain for Women

Gap today will open its first Forth & Towne store, targeted at women 35 and older. The 8,000-square-foot store, about 30 miles from Manhattan at Palisades Center in West Nyack, N.Y., offers four new brands of apparel, Gap said. The clothing will be priced at levels between those at the retailer's Gap and Banana Republic chains.


Coca-Cola Seeks Distribution Deal

Coca-Cola Enterprises decided to terminate plans to acquire a controlling interest in flavored-milk maker Bravo Foods International but is in talks to get master distribution rights for Bravo's products, the world's largest soft-drink distributor said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bravo Foods said in an SEC filing it will issue warrants to Coca-Cola Enterprises that, if exercised, will permit it to acquire about 10 percent of Bravo, less than the 50 percent discussed earlier this month.

Bush Picks Antitrust Chief

Thomas O. Barnett, a senior Justice Department official, will be nominated by President Bush to be the agency's chief antitrust enforcer, the White House said. Barnett, the acting head of the antitrust division since the resignation of R. Hewitt Pate in June, had served as a deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust since 2004. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

Treasury Nomination Coming

President Bush will name Clay Lowery, a senior official at the Millennium Challenge Corp., to be assistant Treasury secretary for international affairs. At the Millennium Challenge Corp., which Bush created in 2004 to distribute international development assistance to companies that meet criteria including "encouraging economic freedom," Lowery's job included providing technical expertise on agricultural and financial markets.

Cargill, the largest U.S. agricultural company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 18 percent, to $230 million, on improved results from its beef, pork and poultry businesses and from shipping and marketing grain. The largest privately held U.S. company does not disclose quarterly revenue. For the year, the company had a profit of $2.1 billion, up from $1.33 billion the previous year. Revenue rose 13 percent, to $71.1 billion.

Williams-Sonoma, owner of a home furnishings chain as well as the Pottery Barn and West Elm brands, said second-quarter profit rose about 12 percent, to $30.8 million. Revenue increased nearly 13 percent, to $776.2 million.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.