RETAIL

Walmart settles with union supporters

Walmart has settled a long-running battle with labor activists over the punishment of workers who claimed they were mistreated by managers for supporting efforts to organize by wearing union insignia.

The agreement, obtained by Bloomberg News, compels Walmart to publicly acknowledge in some of its California stores that it violated federal labor law and to stop threatening workers who support strikes or efforts at organizing.

The settlement — reached by the retailer, the National Labor Relations Board and the advocacy group OUR Walmart — also will wipe out disciplinary actions taken against six employees in its Richmond, Calif.-based store who staged a peaceful protest in 2012. Walmart also must drop an employee dress code that bans clothing bearing union insignia.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, with a staff of 1.5 million, has worked for years to fend off labor unions’ efforts to organize its workers.

— Bloomberg News

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

U.S. Postal Service loses $1.3 billion

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday reported another quarterly loss after a drop in mail volume continued unabated and the costs of its health-care and pension obligations outweighed strong gains in package deliveries.

Amid sharp criticism from President Trump that it is being scammed out of billions of dollars by online retailers such as Amazon.com (whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post), the Postal Service called for greater freedom to raise stamp prices to help cover costs. It warned of a serious financial situation that prevented it from making much-needed investments in letter and package delivery, saying it could not wait for a task force created by Trump to study the reasons behind its losses.

The Postal Service’s report shows a net loss of $1.3 billion between January and March vs. a $562 million loss in the same period last year, due in part to rising fuel costs and added wage expenses as it expands its package business.

The Postal Service had a 10 percent increase in package delivery, helped by its business with Amazon and other Internet retailers, but suffered a loss in first-class letters and marketing mail.

— Associated Press

TRADE

NAFTA update talks to resume soon

Senior American, Canadian and Mexican officials on Friday ended a week of talks without a deal to modernize NAFTA, agreeing instead to resume negotiations soon, ahead of a deadline next week issued by a key U.S. congressional leader.

After meeting for barely half an hour Friday, the top Mexican and Canadian politicians involved in the talks to update the 1994 trade pact made it clear that major differences remained.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said officials would continue working in Washington while the Canadian and Mexican ministers returned home for consultations.

Pressure to reach a deal increased this week when U.S. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said he needed to be notified of a new NAFTA by May 17 to give Congress a chance of passing it.

— Reuters

Also in Business

A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a business group's challenge to a Seattle law, the first of its kind, that would allow drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to unionize. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the city did not have the power to regulate payment arrangements between companies like Uber and Lyft and their drivers.

South Korean prosecutors raided the offices of Upbit, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, on Thursday and Friday. South Korea has been cracking down on the cryptocurrency industry to combat excessive speculation and illegal activities such as money laundering.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said Friday that it had made a final finding in an investigation of complaints that imports of tool chests and cabinets from China and Vietnam amounted to dumping and were harming U.S. producers. The decision paves the way for the U.S. Commerce Department to slap duties of up to 327 percent on the goods for a five-year initial period.

— From news services