Business Briefs – September 16, 2019

Union Votes to Strike at General Motors’ U.S. Plants

DETROIT (AP) – The United Auto Workers union announced Sunday that its roughly 49,000 workers at General Motors plants in the U.S. would go on strike just before midnight because contentious talks on a new contract had broken down.

About 200 plant-level union leaders voted unanimously in favor of a walkout during a meeting Sunday morning in Detroit. Union leaders said the sides were still far apart on several major issues and they apparently weren’t swayed by a GM offer to make new products at or near two of the four plants it had been planning to close, according to someone briefed on the matter.

“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most,” union Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement, referring to union concessions that helped GM survive bankruptcy protection in 2009. “Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our members.”

It’s still possible that bargainers could return to the table and hammer out an agreement, but union spokesman Brian Rothewnberg said at a news conference that it would be unlikely because it is hard to believe they could resolve so many issues before 11:59 p.m.

Lawmakers Ask 4 Big Tech Companies For Documents in Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers investigating the market dominance of Big Tech are asking Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for a broad range of documents including internal communications. Letters went out to the four companies on Friday from the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on antitrust, which has been conducting a sweeping antitrust investigation of the companies and their impact on competition and consumers. The companies have said they’ll cooperate fully with the probe.

U.S. Treasury Sanctions 3 North Korean Hacking Groups

WASHINGTON (AP) – Three North Korean hacking groups suspected of perpetrating cyberattacks around the world have been placed on a U.S. sanctions list. The Treasury Department’s action draws attention to the isolated nation’s illegal efforts to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The U.S. says the three groups are controlled by the North Korean government. One was behind the WannaCry ransomware, which froze 300,000 computers across 150 countries in 2017.

Johnson, Juncker to Meet in a Bid for a Brexit Breakthrough

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet for talks to try to break the Brexit impasse as both sides seek to avert what could be a disastrous “no-deal” departure. Johnson says “there is the rough shape of the deal to be done.” He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” that a new agreement can be forged even as officials warned against any sudden breakthrough.

U.S. Retail Sales Rise Moderately As Auto-Buying Jumps

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. retail sales rose moderately in August, led by a jump in auto buying and healthy online sales. But there were also signs that consumers have become more cautious.

UPS to Pay $8.4M to Settle Claim Of Overcharging Government

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department says United Parcel Service Inc. must pay $8.4 million to settle allegations that the company was overcharging the federal government for package deliveries. The settlement was announced Friday. The Justice Department alleges UPS failed to abide by the terms of its contract with the General Services Administration and overcharged the government for services from 2007 until 2014. UPS said the claims stemmed from “good faith differences regarding contract interpretation.”