Breakaway Unions Form New Federation
St. Louis, Leaders from unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO pledged Tuesday to organize Wal-Mart Stores Inc. workers and reach out to those who lost their jobs due to Hurricane Katrina.
The Challenge to Win Coalition met for its founding convention in St. Louis. The seven unions—including the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers—represent about 5.4 million workers. The unions left the AFL-CIO, charging that the nation’s largest labor federation was unable to halt declining membership. They argued it should shift from backing political candidates to organizing new members.
Walgreen 4Q Profit Hurt by Katrina
Chicago, Walgreen Co. reported a slim rise in its fourth-quarter profit and said sales were slowed by Hurricane Katrina and consumers’ increasing preference for generic prescription drugs over more costly name-brand ones.
Quarterly profit rose to $329 million, or 32? a share, for the fourth quarter, ended Aug. 31, from $324.4 million, or 32? a share, a year earlier. The increase in earnings was the smallest since the 1999 fourth quarter. Sales were $10.49 billion, up 11.3% from $9.43 billion a year ago, but $100 million less than analysts predicted.
Results included a $54.7 million pretax charge for expenses related to Hurricane Katrina damage, which cut quarterly earnings by 3? per share. The hurricane forced Walgreen to shut down approximately 74 stores in the Gulf region. Currently, 32 stores remain closed in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
The chain said it remains on plan to open 475 new stores in fiscal 2006—for a record net increase of 390—after 435 new-store openings in 2005.
“We’re in excellent shape to continue our expansion plans while investing in new store technology and customer-service initiatives,” chairman and CEO David Bernauer said. The retailer projected $1.4 billion in capital investments for fiscal 2006.
American Eagle Outfitters Launches Loyalty Program
Warrendale, Pa., American Eagle Outfitters has debuted its AE All-Access Pass, a loyalty card that allows consumers to earn credits toward rewards by shopping at the retailer’s stores or Web store.
Members will receive reward certificates every three months to coincide with the release of new seasonal collections. The value of the certificates will vary depending on how much the consumer spent. Members also will receive special offers and 15% discounts on their birthdays.