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UAW has GM offer ready for a vote

DETROIT, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The United Auto Workers said it reached a four-year contract agreement with General Motors Co. that will be put to a vote among union leaders next week.

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The New York Times reported Saturday that the deal could be voted on by union leadership Tuesday. If it passes, it will be sent to rank and file union members for a vote seven to 10 days later.

The tentative deal adds "significant improvements to healthcare benefits," the UAW said.

In a statement, the UAW said it had defended members against proposed cuts in compensation. The labor group said, "The UAW was able to convince GM that far greater success could be achieved working together than by cutting pensions or healthcare."

The union did not make the tentative contract public, but said it includes a better deal on profit-sharing that may or may not include a hiring bonus for new workers to make up for the concession agreed to four years ago of having new workers paid at substantially lower hourly wages than established workers.

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GM vice president for labor relations Cathy Clegg said in a statement, "We worked hard for a contract that recognizes the realities of today's marketplace, enabling G.M. to continue to invest in U.S. manufacturing and provide good jobs to thousands of Americans."

With GM posting a profit of $4.7 billion 2010, hourly workers were given bonus paychecks averaging $4,400 this year.

With a new emphasis on profit-sharing as a method of rewarding workers when the company does well, the contract "will define competitiveness for Detroit," said Harley Shaiken, a professor of labor relations at the University of California, Berkeley.


Looking for a franchise? Try China in 2016

SHANGHAI, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The number of franchise stores in China is expected to grow from 1,600 to 800,000 by 2016, a trade group official said.

Pei Liang, general secretary of the China Chain Store & Franchise Association made his comments just ahead of a major chain store trade show in Shanghai, the 2011 International Franchising Expo, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.

The convention runs Sept. 17-19.

Along with the expected 800,000 outlets, China would gain some 10 million jobs, Pei said.

Pei said the industry was becoming more standardized and that "Franchisers are more conscious of intellectual property protection."

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Franchise store managers were also, "more rational when making investment decisions," he said.


Why people copy lower status people

NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- In some circumstances higher status consumers are more likely to emulate lower status people -- the "low status user effect," U.S. and Israeli researchers say.

Study authors Vicki G. Morwitz of New York University and Edith Shalev of the Israel Institute of Technology say people usually do not aspire to obtain lower socioeconomic status, but they discovered if a consumer observes a janitor using the latest technology gadget it may lead a person of higher status to question his own technological hipness.

"This scenario might lead the observer to think: if a lower socioeconomic status person owns the latest tech gadget and I don't, what does this mean about my relative technological innovativeness?"

The authors say the low status user effect only occurs when the product symbolizes a clear and desirable trait.

One study found that research participants showed more interest in a sophisticated T-shirt when a grocery packer wore it than when worn by a college student.

However, the effect was found only among participants who considered being technologically with it to be an important part of their self-definition.

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The findings are published online ahead of the February print issue of journal of Consumer Research.


Battlelines drawn over AT&T T-Mobile deal

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department said seven states are backing efforts to stop AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile, which would create the nation's largest phone carrier.

In a statement, the department said, "We have an excellent working relationship with a number of state attorneys general and they have provided invaluable assistance throughout our investigation."

The department said, "We are pleased" that New York, Washington, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania had joined a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department, The Hill newspaper reported Saturday.

An AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris countered the statement with the company's own count of supporters.

"We appreciate that 11 state attorneys general and hundreds of other local, state and federal officials are publicly supportive of our merger," Balmoris said.

In a similar development, 15 members of Congress, all Democrats, signed a letter to President Barack Obama in support of the merger.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block the $39 billion deal, saying it would harm customers by taking away competition in the marketplace. The two firms together would control 80 percent of the wireless market, the newspaper said.

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