Registered nurses at Sacred Heart Medical Center ratified a new three-year labor contract Tuesday night. The new pact boosts wages by 5 percent this year, followed by 4 percent in 2005 and a 3 percent raise in 2006. The contract also requires nurses at Spokane’s largest private employer to pay more for their health insurance.
• The price of oil rose to its highest level in more than 13 years and the wholesale price of gasoline also set a record, signaling the likelihood of even higher prices at the pump in the future. Unleaded gasoline futures were the highest on record since those contracts started trading in 1984.
• A computer worm dubbed “Sasser” hit hundreds of thousands of machines worldwide. It was the latest virus-like outbreak to take advantage of a flaw within the Windows operating system.
• U.S. Bank said it would open a $15 million call center in Coeur d’Alene next year that eventually could employ 500 people. The 60,000-square-foot call center will be built in the Mill River development along Seltice Way. Construction is to start this summer, with a projected opening in spring 2005.
• Federal Reserve policy-makers left a key interest rate at a 46-year low but signaled that rates could start rising this summer. Most analysts said they believed the Fed’s first rate hike in more than four years will occur in August.
• A federal judge denied Martha Stewart’s request for a new trial, dismissing claims that a juror in her earlier trial lied to conceal a bias against the celebrity homemaker.
• Sysco Corp. broke ground on a 120,000-square-foot warehouse in Post Falls that will supply restaurants in three states. About 150 people are expected to work there after the warehouse opens next year.
• Spokane Mayor Jim West said the city is looking at the Metropolitan Financial Center as a possible new City Hall. The city’s interest in the high-profile office tower owned by Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Inc. has been fueled by proposals from developers to buy the current City Hall building, at 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., and turn it into upscale condominiums.
• A state legislator in Montana has proposed a voter initiative that would make it possible for Montana to acquire power-generating facilities in that state. The initiative, if it makes it onto the November ballot, puts at risk Spokane-based Avista Corp.’s largest power-generating resource, the Noxon Rapids Dam. A similar measure was defeated by Montana voters two years ago.
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