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UAW forming local at Alabama plant

From Wire Reports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The United Auto Workers union said Friday it is forming a local aimed at representing the Mercedes plant in Alabama in a move mirroring its efforts with fellow German automaker Volkswagen in Tennessee.

UAW President Dennis Williams was joined by top labor officials at Mercedes parent Daimler AG and the German union IG Metall to announce the new effort to organize the plant, which is the company’s only factory worldwide without labor representation.

The UAW made a similar move at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after narrowly losing a union vote in a contentious February election. The union has said it has reached a “consensus” with VW that it will recognize the UAW there without another vote once they sign up enough workers.

The organization of foreign automakers in the South is seen as crucial to the survival of the UAW, where collected dues dropped 40 percent between 2006 and 2012 as the union’s ranks fell by 30 percent.

Panama ending easier immigration

PANAMA CITY – A program that helped tens of thousands of foreigners get permission to live and work in Panama entered its final days on Friday with the opening of the last of the immigration fairs that have roused nationalist sentiment in the small Central American nation.

The fair runs through Oct. 12, and the government of new President Juan Carlos Varela says there will be no more.

The program launched in 2010 temporarily eases requirements for those seeking to live and work for several years in a country of 3.5 million people with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Some U.S. and Canadian citizens have applied, but most of the 48,000 visas granted in earlier immigration fairs went to Colombians, Nicaraguans, Dominicans and Venezuelans, including hotel and restaurant workers and some street vendors.

Sprint announces new round of layoffs

Sprint Corp., the nation’s third-biggest cellphone carrier, said it is cutting an unspecified number of jobs this month to reduce costs as it tries to better compete with AT&T and Verizon, and hinted that more layoffs are possible.

“We’re still working through the details so exact numbers and locations are not available at this time,” Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton said in an email on Friday. The October job cuts will include managers as well as other employees. Sprint had 38,000 employees at the end of December.

Shares closed flat at $6.25 on Friday. The stock has dropped 42 percent in 2014.

Marriott to pay $600K for jamming Wi-Fi

NEW YORK – Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees’ own Wi-Fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, forcing them to pay hefty prices to use the hotel’s own connection.

Frequent travelers often carry personal Wi-Fi hotspots – tiny devices that can connect to the Internet via cellphone towers. For $50 a month, they can connect to the Internet on the move.

Last year, a conference attendee at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee – which is managed by Marriott – found that the hotel was jamming devices in its ballrooms and complained to the Federal Communications Commission.

While jamming personal Wi-Fi connections, Marriott was charging users between $250 and $1,000, per access point, to use the Gaylord’s Wi-Fi connection.

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