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Starbucks boss to testify before Senate over treatment of unions

Howard Schultz

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will testify before a Senate committee over reported union-busting.

Schultz’s appearance comes after pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders over the company’s behavior towards unionizing staff.

The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted to subpoena Schultz on Wednesday morning, March 8.

He previously declined a request to appear for a hearing. 

Read More: Starbucks illegally fired union staff in a “reign of coercion”

Sanders, a democratic socialist representing Vermont, chairs the committee.

Mr. Schultz is now scheduled to testify at a hearing on March 29.

Starbucks said: “Through the agreement reached today, our testimony will seek to foster a better understanding of our partner-first culture and priorities.

“Including our industry leading benefit offerings and our long-standing commitment to support the shared success of all partners.”

Read More: Starbucks corporate staff lose faith in company values as union battle continues

In February, Starbucks’ general counsel argued Schultz is leaving, which means it would be more appropriate for another senior executive with ongoing obligations to testify.

Schultz will be succeeded by Laxman Narasimhan, who takes over as CEO in April.

But Mr Sanders: ″[Schultz] will remain on the board, he is the CEO today, and he would be the CEO when we invited him … it is clear to everybody that it is Mr. Schultz who sets the policy of that company.”

National Labor Relations Board data shows 290 Starbucks locations voted to unionize on Tuesday, March 7.

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But despite Starbucks Workers United winning its first election a year before, none of the stores have come to a contract with the company.

In fact, Starbucks has been more aggressive in its resistance to the union effort since Schultz took to the reins of the firm in April of last year.

The union has filed over 500 unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, including accusations of retaliatory firings and store closures.

The Seattle-based company has also hiked wages and benefits of non-union workers. 

Starbucks has filed over a hundred complaints against the union, claiming coercion and harassment.

Source: CNBC

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FTC looking to oust Elon Musk from Twitter, sources say

Twitter logo

Federal regulators plan to depose Twitter boss Elon Musk as part of an ongoing probe into the company’s data and privacy practices, sources say.

The Federal Trade Commission has demanded Twitter hand over communications about controversial moves under Musk’s leadership, including the recent mass layoffs.

The agency also seeks data on “Twitter Files,” which are a series of internal documents Musk sent to journalists

Read More: Elon Musk apologizes after mocking disabled Twitter employee

More details about the probe come from a report released by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 7.

It sheds light on the FTC’s response to Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Mr. Musk responded to the probe by tweeting: “A shameful case of weaponization of a government agency for political purposes and suppression of the truth!”

Twitter and the FTC both declined to comment.

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In the three months following Musk’s takeover, the FTC sent over a dozen letters to Twitter.

The House Judiciary Committee argues in its report the outreach shows that the agency has been “attempting to harass” the firm. 

Twitter is now subject to an FTC consent decree, which means the agency monitors the company’s privacy policies.

Several layoffs under Musk have targeted staff responsible for the social media platform’s privacy and security.

Source: Fortune

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Frankie and Benny’s owner to close 35 more restaurants

Frankie and Bennys

The owner of Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito has announced the closure of up to 35 more restaurants.

The Restaurant Group blamed the move on rising operating costs and a reduction of customer spending.

The company operates around 410 restaurants and said it plans to reduce its estate by 30 percent by closing loss-making locations by next year.

Read More: Byron Burger announces more than 200 job cuts as 9 restaurants set to close

However, its popular Wagamama restaurant chain will not be affected.

It comes after The Restaurant Group announced plans to close 250 locations by 2021, which will largely affect staff at its Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito, and Food & Fuel brands.

The company’s management has come under fire from investors demanding change after a two-thirds drop in share value last year.

Read More: Sainsbury’s begins rollout of restaurant hub concept with London launch

The group, which employs 18,000 people in the UK, announced its pre-tax loss for 2022 increased to £86.8 million from £35.2 million the previous year.

The group’s chairman, Ken Hanna, stated last year was “challenging” for the casual dining sector.

This is because businesses had to deal with rising costs after being closed down during the pandemic.

The company added worker shortages, wage increases, and rising ingredient costs had made trading “tough,” according to the company.

Read More: Chipotle accused of shutting restaurant where staff are trying to unionize

The Restaurant Group also said “cost-of-living pressures on the UK consumer” had “somewhat impacted” it.

Chief executive Andy Hornby said the company had a “clear plan” to increase its margins over the next three years and “deliver significant value for all our stakeholders”.

According to Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, The Restaurant Group is under pressure from larger investors to divest some of its brands.

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He added that selling the Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito chains could benefit the overall business by allowing it to focus on Wagamama, “which is clearly a restaurant brand with genuine appeal.”

He said: “Rename the business as Wagamama, clear out the rest, and you would have a streamlined and focused operation which might have more appeal to investors.”

Source: BBC

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Morrisons posts £1.5 billion loss after being sold to CD&R


Morrisons has reported a £1.5 billion loss a year after being purchased by US private equity firm CD&R.

The grocer was acquired by CD&R in October 2021 for £7 billion, in a debt-fueled deal led by former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy.

The supermarket giant’s balance sheet was left with £6.1 billion of debt as a result of the transaction, resulting in high-interest payments and high exposure to rising borrowing rates.

Read More: Morrisons will drop property maintenance suppliers putting 1,000 jobs at risk

The current loss of £1.5 billion, as reported by Companies House, includes a £400 million cost incurred as interest payments.

Morrisons was the UK’s fourth-largest supermarket the year before it was taken over, with a £201 million annual profit.

Aldi surpassed it last year, knocking it out of the Big 4 grocery stores.

Last week, the Bradford-based grocer announced plans to eliminate at least 83 property maintenance suppliers, threatening over 1,000 jobs.

Read More: Morrisons to axe 160 McColl’s head office roles

As it transitions away from suppliers, the grocer plans to use a single repair provider.

Morrisons is also planning to lay off up to 50 property maintenance workers at its Bradford headquarters and elsewhere in the UK.

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SourceRetail Gazette

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BMW working on £500 million plan to ensure Mini production stays in Britain

BMW Minis

BMW is rumoured to be putting the finishing touches on a huge investment plan for its plant in Oxford to ensure production of the legendary Mini stays in the United Kingdom.

Sky News reports the German car maker plans to officially announce its decision later this spring, with one industry insider saying it would be revealed in a few weeks.

If the plans are confirmed, the investment package, which is thought to be worth around £500 million, would provide a significant boost to Britain’s automotive industry.

Read More: BMW Group will create 200 new jobs in South Carolina

One source claimed approximately £75 million of the funding will come from the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, which has been approved by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

It was unclear how the total investment would be structured, as well as the specific implications for job creation and retention at the company’s Oxford location.

Read More: BMW demonstrates E Ink color changing car at CES 2022

Responding to an enquiry from Sky News, a BMW spokesperson said the company did not comment on “media speculation”, but added: “With its high degree of flexibility, competitiveness and expertise, the Oxford plant plays an important role in the BMW Group’s production network.

“For the next MINI generation, Oxford will produce the majority of MINI models, the MINI Cooper three-door and five-door models, as well as the MINI Convertible – one of our most important vehicles and a worldwide bestseller.”

If the plans come to fruition, it marks a change in policy as BMW had previously stated that its all-electric Mini models – a hatchback and a small crossover – will be manufactured in China as part of a collaboration with Great Wall, one of the country’s largest automakers.

Read More: Two BMW employees from Cotswold test positive for Coronavirus

The Mini Countryman will be manufactured in Leipzig, Germany, beginning this year.

If the latest plans come to fruition, they will provide a boost to the UK auto industry just weeks after it was revealed that the sector had its worst year in terms of production since the 1950s.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, carmakers produced only 775,000 vehicles in 2022, a nearly 10 percent decrease from the previous year (SMMT).

Read More: Italian fabric maker brings 34 jobs and $18 million investment to South Carolina

Supply chain issues such as component bottlenecks were a major contributor to the decline, but the industry’s gloom has been exacerbated by the recent collapse of Britishvolt, a fledgling electric vehicle battery manufacturer.

Recharge Industries, an Australian company, has purchased Britishvolt’s technology.

Cowley has been producing Minis since the 1950s, and production resumed in the early 2000s under BMW ownership.

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Every year, approximately 200,000 Minis are produced in Oxford, with approximately 80 percent of them destined for export markets.

The plant employs approximately 4,000 people, making it one of the most important in the United Kingdom.

Read More: In The Style will sell business for just £1.2 million to avoid bankruptcy

BMW announced in October it would stop producing the electric Mini in Oxford in 2021 and that the UK plant would instead produce the Mini Cooper three-door and five-door Hatch models.

“Additionally, the Mini Convertible will be returning to Oxford from 2025 – this is one of our most important cars and a global best-seller,” it said at the time.

“Electric MINIs – a hatchback and small SUV – will start their production in China through our partnership with Great Wall and the electric Countryman will be built in Leipzig [in Germany].”

SourceSky News

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Formulated Solutions’ $43.6 million project will bring 524 new jobs to Tennessee

Formulated Solutions

Formulated Solutions plans to launch new manufacturing operations in Tennessee in a $43.6 million investment which will create 524 jobs.

The announcement follows its recent purchase of the 455,000-square-foot former Beiersdorf plant in Cleveland.

The pharmaceutical manufacturer intends to recruit 380 new employees and extend employment offers to the vast majority of former Beiersdorf employees.

Read More: WebstaurantStore invests $103.9 million to create 225 new jobs in Tennessee

CEO Victor Swint said: “With a long history of local pharmaceutical production and an abundance of well-trained, reliable workforce talent, we are excited to join the thriving local community and contribute to the area’s manufacturing legacy.”

The Tennessee expansion will allow the firm to better serve its rising customer demand while also expanding its pharmaceutical production.

Based in Largo, Florida, Formulated Solutions specializes in the development and manufacturing of patient-convenient package formats. 

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When fully operational, the Cleveland plant will be the company’s second commercial manufacturing site and its first outside of Florida.

TNECD has backed over 40 economic development projects in the Southeast Tennessee region since 2019.

It has led to over 7,300 job commitments and a capital investment of $3.2 billion.

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