OPERATIONS

Sears Canada lays off 700 employees

BY Staff Writer

New York — Sears Canada is letting go of 700 workers as part of a plan to "right-size" the operation.

The lay-offs will include 360 department store associates and about 300 distribution center workers, as well as some head office personnel.

Sears Canada, majority-owned by Sears Holdings Corp., has falling sales. It is also facing major competition by Wal-Mart Stores and Target, which is set to make its Canadian debut this spring.

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Union agrees to end picketing at Wal-Mart stores

BY Staff Writer

New York — Labor groups that have long spoken out against Wal-Mart Stores will stop much of their picketing against the world’s largest retailer, though they still plan to continue to push the company to improve working conditions.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, and OUR Walmart reached an agreement with the National Labor Relations Board, the groups and Walmart said on Thursday.

The labor groups claim that they were not trying to unionize Walmart workers with their actions, which included a small number of Walmart’s more than 1.3 million U.S. employees themselves engaging in protests outside of Walmart stores.

The agreement comes after Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice charge against the UFCW in November, asking the NLRB to halt what the retailer said were unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.

Wal-Mart filed with the NLRB after groups planned major protests at its stores for Black Friday, a busy shopping day. The NLRB did not issue any ruling before that day, and while several protests took place they did not hurt sales, as the Walmart chain of thousands of stores across the United States said it had its best Black Friday ever.

The UFCW and OUR Walmart — a UFCW-supported group of current and former Wal-Mart workers — said that they do not intend to have Wal-Mart recognize or bargain with them as the representative of Wal-Mart employees.

The UFCW and OUR Walmart will stop any unlawful recognitional picketing, will stop encouraging unlawful disruptions by other affiliated groups and will stop any picketing at Walmart stores and facilities for at least 60 days.

The agreement is unlikely to make a huge difference to the campaign, as OUR Walmart, the UFCW and others can still publicly voice their concerns without doing anything that would be legally defined as picketing, said John Logan, professor of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University.

OUR Walmart said the agreement does not limit its ability to help employees in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards. The UFCW said that the pact allows the union to continue its support of OUR Walmart and its supporters.

In mid-January, Walmart said that it would give part-time workers the first shot at full-time positions. It also plans to make scheduling more transparent, giving part-time workers the ability to choose more of their own hours.

"Walmart is hearing us and at least starting to make changes that will improve the lives of workers and their families and our communities, and we will continue to raise our voices until there is real change at Walmart," Colby Harris, a member of OUR Walmart from Dallas, said in a statement provided by the group.

Members of OUR Walmart pay dues of $5 per month.

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OPERATIONS

J.C. Penney to support Dress for Success efforts

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — As part of its charitable giving program, jcp cares, J.C. Penney is inviting its customers to round up their purchases in February to the nearest whole dollar and donate the difference to benefit Dress for Success, an organization that providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help disadvantaged women thrive in work and in life.

Through its dedicated services and programs Dress for Success addresses every phase of a woman’s career — from being unemployed and searching, to recently employed and adjusting, to gainfully employed and succeeding. By rounding up their totals, shoppers will have a personal hand in helping these women graduate from one step to the next on their path to professional fulfillment and, ultimately, economic independence.

“While jcp cares is an established charitable giving program, this partnership with Dress for Success will be the first time that shoppers will be able to round up their purchases on jcp.com, allowing consumers throughout the country to easily support to Dress for Success when shopping online. This component of February’s jcp cares campaign is also inline with Dress for Success’ ongoing goal to provide more digital assets to the women that it serves, so that each woman may hold the power of success in the palm of her hand or access the tools of achievement from any computer.

“We are thrilled to be supporting Dress for Success this month,” said Miki Woodard, president of jcp cares and VP philanthropy at J.C. Penney. “By rounding up their purchases, J.C. Penney shoppers will have a personal hand in helping disadvantaged women take the next step in their path toward professional fulfillment and, ultimately, economic independence.”

J.C. Penney customers can also support Dress for Success through the Facebook social game, WeTopia. Furthermore, customers can make donations to Dress for Success online at JCP.com/jcpcares and find more information about J.C. Penney’s philanthropic commitments.

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