- Created on 25 September 2013
(AP Photo / David Goldman, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It soon could cost 49 cents to mail a letter.
The postal Board of Governors said Wednesday it wants to raise the price of a first-class stamp by 3 cents, citing the agency's "precarious financial condition" and the uncertain prospects for postal overhaul legislation in Congress.
"Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges," board chairman Mickey Barnett wrote customers.
The rate proposal must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. If the commission accepts it, the increase would become effective Jan. 26.
Under federal law the post office cannot raise its prices more than the rate of inflation unless it gets approval from the commission. In seeking the increase, Barnett cited "extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses" by the agency.
As part of the rate increase request, the cost for each additional ounce of first-class mail would increase a penny to 21 cents while the price of mailing a postcard would rise by a cent, to 34 cents. The cost to mail a letter to an international destination would jump 5 cents to $1.15.
Many consumers won't feel the increase immediately. Forever stamps bought before an increase still would cover first-class postage. The price of new forever stamps would be at the higher rate, if approved.
The Postal Service also said it would ask for adjustment to bulk mail and package rates in a filing with the commission Thursday. No details were immediately provided.
Media and marketing businesses say a big increase in rates could hurt them and lower postal volume and revenues.
The post office expects to lose $6 billion this year and is seeking help from Congress to fix its finances.
Barnett said the increase, if approved, would generate $2 billion annually in revenue for his agency.
The agency last raised postage rates on Jan. 27, including a penny increase in the cost of first-class mail to 46 cents.
Congress is considering cost-cutting moves that include ending Saturday mail delivery and most door-to-door delivery. The agency says ending Saturday mail delivery would save $2 billion each year. But many lawmakers, along with postal worker unions, have resisted such changes, saying they would inconvenience customers.
The Postal Service supports the proposed delivery changes. It also is seeking to reduce its $5.6 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits. It missed two of those $5.6 billion payments last year, one deferred from the previous year, and is expected to miss another at the end of this month when its fiscal year ends.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe was to appear before a Senate panel on Thursday to press lawmakers for swift action on legislation to fix his agency's finances.
Donahue has said that without help from Congress, the agency expects its multibillion-dollar annual losses to worsen. He has warned that the agency's cash liquidity remains dangerously low.
The Postal Service is an independent agency that receives no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.
- Created on 26 September 2013
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — A northern Illinois grocery store chain is scrapping self-checkouts from some of its stores.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1bbzN9X ) Jewel-Osco is in the process of ditching the self-service lines.
The Itasca-based grocer has more than 170 stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa and was recently acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management.
Allison Sperling is a company spokeswoman who says the change will take place over the next year.
Sperling says the company will hire more cashiers and add shorter express lanes.
The change will cut down on thefts, but also increase customer service. The decision could also make it easier on employees, who now often man several self-checkout lanes at once while trying to help customers.
Jewel-Osco recently eliminated its customer loyalty cards.
Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com
- Created on 24 September 2013
DETROIT, MI – The Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project, an initiative of the Citizenship Education Fund (CEF), will convene its 14thAnnual Rainbow PUSH Global Automotive Summit, October 2-3, 2013, at the MGM Grand Detroit Meeting & Events Center, 1777 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48226. This year’s theme, “Economic Parity: Driving The Plan For Success,” addresses the release of the Rainbow PUSH Diversity Automotive Scorecard.
The Rainbow PUSH/CEF Global Automotive Summit provides viable solutions in an industry that is still recovering from significant economic downturns. The Summit’s ultimate goal is to bring inclusive strategies to the forefront of the global business landscape as an endeavor to identify, sustain and grow ethnic suppliers, dealers, media outlets, advertising agencies and firms that provide professional services.
Summit conversations will include community and industry leaders discussing The Assault on Diversity at the Leadership Town Hall Breakfast. As the automotive industry bounces back and reaches unprecedented growth rates and profitability, African American automotive suppliers and dealers have dwindled to an alarming rate. Automotive leaders will also Speak on Diversity: The Business Case during the Business & Education Awards Luncheon. The Summit will conclude by recognizing living legends and emerging leaders in the automotive industry.
“We will continue to celebrate diversity within the automotive industry by recognizing companies whose business model embodies inclusion. However, we will also highlight those companies that resist diversity,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “Minority consumers support automotive companies with more than 22 percent of new vehicle purchases, yet some companies’ diversity plans continue to lag woefully. This is unacceptable.”
- Created on 23 September 2013
Well, that didn't take long. BlackBerry plans to become a private company in a deal that is worth just $4.7 billion.
BlackBerry's largest shareholder, Canadian insurance company Fairfax Financial, hopes to buy the smartphone maker for $9 per share.
That's an extremely low premium. Prior to the announcement, BlackBerry was trading at $8.24 per share. As recently as Friday, BlackBerry shares were trading at more than $10.
Shares of BlackBerry (BBRY) traded just above $9 after the announcement.
The deal, announced Monday, comes just three days after BlackBerry announced brutal preliminary quarterly financials, including a $1 billion loss for last quarter and plans to lay off about 4,500 staffers.
And so Fairfax, which already owns about a 10% stake in BlackBerry, is a possible white knight for a company that sorely needs one. Fairfax CEO Prem Watsa said the deal "will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry," and that it will "deliver immediate value to shareholders."
The Fairfax offer isn't a done deal, however. BlackBerry chairwoman Barbara Stymiest said the company would consider "superior" deals, and the company has until Nov. 4 to find a better offer before proposing Fairfax's plan to shareholders.
If BlackBerry does receive multiple offers, a bidding war could break out. Late Friday, the New York Times posted a report saying BlackBerry co-founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis had approached private-equity firms about making an offer for the company.
Given BlackBerry's struggles, the go-private offer came along rather quickly. It's been just one month since BlackBerry said its board of directors had formed a special committee to look into "strategic alternatives" for the company -- including a possible sale. (As part of that announcement, Watsa stepped down from his board position to avoid "potential conflicts.")
If the Fairfax deal goes through, it will likely be a big relief for BlackBerry.
In the corporate world, BlackBerry once held a lofty position as the king of the enterprise world. But companies have been increasingly willing to let employees work on phones they choose -- a phenomenon known as Bring Your Own Device. Those employees are overwhelmingly selecting iPhones and Android smartphones.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry rivals Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) have worked hard to improve their security and e-mail delivery capabilities. As a result, corporate IT departments have opened their once-restrictive gates to non-BlackBerry devices.