- - Monday, August 8, 2011


Verizon workers hit picket lines along East Coast

NEW YORK — Thousands of striking workers in Verizon Communication Inc.’s land-line division joined picket lines and rallies Monday at company offices from Massachusetts to Virginia, a union official said.

The contract for 45,000 employees expired at midnight Saturday after the company and the workers were unable to come to terms on issues including health care costs and pensions. The dispute does not affect the wireless division at Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

Several hundred striking workers demonstrated outside the company’s headquarters in lower Manhattan, most wearing red shirts and chanting, “Union busting, it’s disgusting!” About 60 workers picketed in Brooklyn.

Robert Master, a Communications Workers of America spokesman, said picket lines also were up in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

The striking workers are responsible for maintaining and repairing traditional land lines, as well as installing the company’s fiber-optic FiOS service, he said.


Airlines begin rolling back fare hikes

DALLAS — Southwest and Delta say they have rolled back last month’s fare increases so that passengers will pay the same price even though federal ticket taxes are being collected again.

Industry observers said Monday that they expect other airlines will go along.

If that happens consumers will pay the same total price for travel instead of seeing increases of around 10 percent on many tickets for travel within the U.S.

Most U.S. airlines raised fares last month after a dispute in Congress caused federal excise taxes to expire. In effect, airlines grabbed the money that previously went to the government instead of passing the tax break to consumers.

Last week, Congress revived the ticket taxes through Sept. 16.


State regulates use of expert network firms

BOSTON — Massachusetts will become the first state in the country to regulate so-called expert networks, companies at the heart of the government’s insider-trading probe, when a new rule takes effect in December.

The rule, which becomes effective Dec. 1, will require investment advisers such as hedge funds to get a written certification from experts saying they will not pass on confidential information and that they are not subject to any confidentiality restrictions.

“This regulation is designed to thwart the misuse of inside information improperly obtained by these expert network consultants and ensure that information they provide was properly obtained,” Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, the state’s top securities regulator, said.

So-called expert network firms give stock pickers such as hedge-fund managers access to doctors, engineers and midlevel sales executives to help educate investors about their industries. Many of these firms already have strict rules on what type of information their experts can pass on.


Air traffic controllers call strike

BERLIN — The union representing Germany’s air traffic controllers will hold a six-hour walkout on Tuesday that could force hundreds of flights to be disrupted.

A court ruled Monday that the strike, over a pay dispute, can go forward that day between 6 a.m. and noon, despite a legal challenge of it by the national air traffic authority.

The union said there was “no alternative to a strike” because the latest offer from employers was unacceptable.

A similar walkout was thwarted last week, after the national air traffic authority won a court injunction against it.

The national air traffic authority said it would appeal Monday’s ruling.

The GdF union has been seeking a one-year wage deal with a 6.5 percent pay increase and changes to the organizational structure. It has rejected the air traffic authority’s offer of a lower raise over a longer period.


Short selling banned as stocks tank

ATHENS — Greece has banned short selling on the stock market for two months from Tuesday, after shares on the Athens Stock Exchange plunged to their lowest level in more than 14 years.

The bourse’s general index sank below the 1,000-point mark Monday, closing down 6 percent at 998.24 — the lowest level since January 1997 — as financial markets were buffeted by worries over the U.S. economy after a downgrade of the country’s debt.

The slide was markedly more than the declines recorded in other markets in Europe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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