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Worker benefits harder to find

Fri., April 3, 2009

Washington workers who are not losing their jobs may be losing benefits instead, according to survey released Thursday by the state Employment Security Department.

The share of full-time employees with medical insurance fell to 56.5 percent in 2008, down from 66.3 percent in 2007.

Only 37.4 percent received dental benefits, down from 46.5 percent, and retirement plans were available to 37.7 percent of employees, down from 44 percent.

Much smaller percentages of part-time workers enjoyed any of these benefits, the survey said.

Smaller companies were less likely to provide benefits, and they were more likely to discontinue coverages as the economy slowed down.

Employees in the information and company management were most likely to have benefits, those in hospitality and food service the least likely.

Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said the results were not a surprise. “When companies have to tighten their purse strings, they figure that a job with fewer benefits is generally better than no job at all,” she said.


GM offers deeper concessions

General Motors Corp. has prepared a new proposal for bondholders that aims to satisfy the government’s demand for much deeper givebacks from creditors, according to two people briefed on the plans.

The offer to the bondholders, who hold roughly $28 billion in unsecured General Motors debt, will exceed a previous government requirement that GM swap two-thirds of its unsecured debt for company stock, one of the people said.

GM and Chrysler LLC have received $17.4 billion in government loans to fund their operations but the companies are trying to slash costs and debt levels to stave off bankruptcy. President Barack Obama said Monday the carmakers’ recently submitted restructuring plans failed to go far enough and gave them strict deadlines to win more concessions from their stakeholders.

New York

Madoff mansion drops in value

Even Bernie Madoff isn’t exempt from the real estate slump.

The Florida mansion that prosecutors seized from the Wall Street swindler appears to have lost a big chunk of its value since Palm Beach County officials assessed its worth last year at $9.3 million.

A new appraisal that federal officials had done in March pegged the property’s likely market price at $7.45 million.

Prosecutors disclosed in a court filing Thursday that Madoff and his wife tentatively agreed to let the government sell off the waterfront Palm Beach home while the courts decide how much of the family’s fortune should be forfeited and distributed to victims of his Ponzi scheme.

New York

Delphi, Obama to begin talks

Officials from Delphi Corp. and its former parent General Motors Corp. will meet with representatives from President Barack Obama’s auto task force on Monday for talks that could get the struggling auto supplier out of bankruptcy protection.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain on Thursday approved a timetable for the parties to reach some kind of deal, setting a deadline of April 17 for Troy, Mich.-based Delphi to submit its plan. The talks will also involve Delphi’s lenders and creditors.

From staff and wire reports


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