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Continental employees reject union

Thu., Jan. 10, 2008

Baggage handlers and cargo agents at Continental Airlines Inc. have voted to reject a union’s bid to organize them, the airline said Wednesday.

The Transport Workers Union was seeking to represent about 7,900 ground workers. The vote to reject organization occurred for the third time in about as many years. Voting began in December and concluded Wednesday. The vote count was not immediately disclosed.

TWU officials said the Continental ramp workers are the largest group of nonunion employees in the heavily organized airline industry.

BMW sales rose by 9.2 percent last year, with buyers snapping up its luxury sedans and the speedy Mini, the carmaker said Wednesday.

The Munich-based company – whose brands include BMW, Mini and Maybach – sold 1.5 million cars last year, compared with 1.37 million in 2006, it said.

BMW brand sales increased by 7.7 percent to 1,276,793, compared with 1,185,088 in 2006.

Sales of the Mini jumped by 18.5 percent to 222,875 cars, compared with 188,077 the previous year.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars saw an increase of 25.5 percent with 1,010 of its luxurious Phantoms sold, compared with 805 a year earlier.

Troubled discount brokerage E-Trade Financial Corp. said Wednesday it is restructuring to reduce risk on its balance sheet, in a series of moves that helped lift its shares off their all-time lows.

E-Trade said it recently sold about $3 billion of mortgage-backed securities and municipal bonds, in addition to a November sale of its $3 billion asset-backed securities portfolio. The latest sale of mortgage-backed securities and municipal bonds will result in a loss of less than $5 million.

E-Trade also said it will exit its institutional trading business, affecting about 30 employees. The change means E-Trade will now be solely focused on its retail banking and brokerage operations.

Like many other financial institutions, E-Trade has struggled with the rapid deterioration in the mortgage and credit markets.

Target Corp. said Wednesday that President Gregg Steinhafel would take over for retiring CEO Bob Ulrich, a long-expected handoff that comes just as the nation’s second-largest retailer hits a rough patch.

Target said Ulrich would step down as CEO on May 1, soon after he turns 65. He will remain as chairman through Jan. 31, 2009.

Steinhafel, 52, has a reputation for being a frequent visitor to Target stores and for a sharp eye for the style factor in the goods they offer.


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