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Feud hikes chances of dock strike

The end of one labor crisis at the nation’s busiest port complex could be a prelude to another.

The resolution of an eight-day strike by clerical workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors that stalled billions of dollars of cargo and left container ships stranded off the California coast points to the stakes for upcoming contract talks with dockworkers at western U.S. shipping terminals.

The clerical workers represent a sliver of the membership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose 24,000 dockworkers handle cargo such as car parts and computers at ports in Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. The strikers numbered only about 450, but thousands of dockworkers refused to cross picket lines and halted work at the sister ports that handle 44 percent of all container traffic that arrives in the U.S. by sea.

“There is a linkage between the two,” said Gary Chaison, professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. The walkout in Southern California “increased the possibility, the probability, of a strike” when the dockworker contract is negotiated in 2014.

Short sales outpacing bank-owned offerings

Sales of U.S. homes facing foreclosure are on the rise and outpacing sales of bank-owned homes, a reflection of stepped up efforts this year by lenders to avoid foreclosing on homes with mortgages gone unpaid.

In the third quarter, sales of homes already in the foreclosure process jumped 22 percent compared with the previous quarter and a year earlier, foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Short sales, when a lender agrees to accept less than what the homeowner owes on the mortgage, accounted for 65 percent of those pre-foreclosure sales in the quarter, the firm said.

Banks have become more amenable to short sales as an alternative to foreclosure, which can often end up leading to bigger losses and mire lenders and borrowers in a time-consuming and expensive process.

HTC to pay Apple based on volume

HTC Corp. will make royalty payments quarterly to Apple and pledges not to make “cloned” copies of Apple products as part of the settlement of their global patents battle, according to an agreement filed in a U.S. court.

Fees paid by HTC will be based on sales volumes and made 45 days after the end of each quarter, according to a redacted version of the patent license and settlement agreement signed by both sides and filed Wednesday. HTC gets access to some of Apple’s patented inventions while agreeing not to copy designs.

That 10-year deal, announced by the two companies Nov. 11, ended patent-infringement lawsuits that spanned the globe and threatened shipments. The agreement was filed after a U.S. District Court ruling in a separate case between Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Jobless aid claims drop for a 3rd time

Weekly U.S. unemployment benefit applications fell 25,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 370,000, the government said Thursday.

The third straight drop shows a temporary spike caused by Superstorm Sandy has faded.

Weekly applications are back to pre-storm levels that are consistent with modest hiring. Applications had spiked a month ago after Sandy shuttered businesses in the Northeast.

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