Business & Finance

There are still "a lot of obstacles" to a new contract with Detroit's Big Three automakers, United Auto Workers Union president Ron Gettelfinger said Saturday, although he held out hope that a deal might be reached with "at least" one by Sunday's midnight deadline. The UAW reportedly had sought to reach a historic simultaneous accord with General Motors (GM), Ford, and the US unit of DaimlerChrysler, as well as two parts suppliers. A GM demand for a copayment of up to $15 by each union member on his or her prescription drug benefit is a key sticking point, reports said.

After twice rebuffing takeover bids by Alcan Inc., rival aluminum producer Pechiney accepted a $4.5 billon cash and stock deal Friday that apparently will result in the resignation of its top administrator. If the merger is approved by regulators, the combined company will rival Alcoa of the US for worldwide leadership in the industry. But Pechiney's chairman and chief executive, Jean-Pierre Rodier, said he'll step down if the takeover becomes final. Pechiney is based in Paris; Alcan in Montreal.

Nike Inc. agreed to pay $1.5 million, but admitted no wrongdoing Friday in a settlement with a San Francisco labor activist. Marc Kasky sued the sneaker giant in 1998 for false advertising for claiming in commercials that it protected worker rights at contract factories in Asia. Nike argued that the ads are constitutionally protected free speech. But California's Supreme Court allowed the suit to proceed, and the US Supreme Court dropped its review in June. The money will go to the Fair Labor Association, a group that monitors international factory conditions.

In a move that will cost 230 jobs, computer products firm CDW Corp. said Friday it will close a newly acquired Micro Warehouse distribution center in Wilmington, Del. Micro Warehouse filed for bankruptcy Wednesday after agreeing to sell its assets to CDW of Vernon Hills, Ill.

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