Gelson's deal: The high-end supermarket chain has reached an agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers that apparently eliminates the two-tier wage system that was at the center of the labor dispute in 2003. The Gelson's contract, which must still be approved by the rank-and-file, follows an accord between the union and Stater Bros. Contract talks are being conducted this time by the individual chains - not as a group - and both Gelson's and Stater Bros. have had pretty good relationships with the union. The big question is what happens with the major chains: Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. LAT indicates that those talks are still in the early stages. The current contract is up on March 5.
JetBlue fallout: Lots of coverage on the struggles being faced by the popular airline after last week's horrendous delays and cancellations. LAT has a good local angle about a Valencia landscape company that racked up $83,000 in hotel and airfare costs after its JetBlue flight from Bermuda was canceled. Landscape Development, which had been on a business retreat, will receive a full refund for the cost of the trip to Bermuda, as well as vouchers for the amount the company paid for the tickets. The central question (aside from why a Valencia landscape company is having a business retreat in Bermuda) is how full planes can sit on airport tarmacs for hours at a time. The WSJ's Scott McCartney says there are lots of reasons, from poor communication between the airport and airline to troublesome FAA rules to airline crews that are simply stretched too thin. One other thing: planes are so packed these days that airlines are more hesitant to cancel flights because passengers might have to wait days for an open seat. From the WSJ:
JetBlue operates with a philosophy to fly every trip, no matter how late. The New York-based carrier typically has the lowest rate of flight cancellations among major airlines. That worked well last winter when a predicted blizzard wasn't as bad as forecast and JetBlue kept flying while other airlines had already canceled flights. But this year, JetBlue got caught. Its operations jumbled, JetBlue had problems that continued through the weekend. Flights were canceled wholesale because the airline's operations department was slow to get planes and crews back on track.
Viacom snubs YouTube: The media giant will offer its videos to Joost, the Internet video service created by the founders of Skype. That means hundreds of hours of programming from MTV, Paramount and BET Networks will be available to Joost users for free. You might recall that Viacom couldn't reach a licensing deal with YouTube and demanded the removal of 100,000 video clips that were uploaded without authorization. Reuters
Verizon workers protest: They were marching in Long Beach to complain about work conditions. The union says that an increased daily quota of jobs has forced older workers into early retirement and caused health issues for those staying on. Monday's protest came a week after the death of a Verizon technician who had a heart attack in the middle a job at a customer's home. A Verizon spokesman said the union is doling out misinformation. Press-Telegram
Lancaster lineup: A two-hour wait to get into Red Lobster? If you live in the Antelope Valley, where mid-priced, sit-down restaurants are in short supply, that's fast becoming the norm. (The lines start forming at 5.) The higher-end restaurant chains have been slow to open in the more inland areas because of outdated perceptions about the type of people who live out there and the type of incomes they have. Fact is, incomes in places like Riverside and San Bernardino have been increasing sharply over the past decade or so. From the LAT:
For residents looking for fulfillment in their search for high-end retailers, the holy grail these days can be found on Interstate 10 in Rancho Cucamonga, 50 miles east of L.A. Once a punch line for comedian Jack Benny, Rancho Cucamonga now bills itself as the "Inland Empire's premier city," in part because of its success wooing high-end retailers. Rancho Cucamonga officials tirelessly sold the city at trade shows and in industry publications. Its standing among the nation's fastest-growing cities helped appeal to chains, such as Banana Republic and California Pizza Kitchen.
Along these lines...: Montebello Town Center announces several deals with higher-end retailers that include Coach and The Body Shop. These are considered "bridge tenants" that are somewhere between mid- and high-level retailers. Star-News
Nixing "Higher Standards": Bank of America is phasing out that tag line and will introduce a new marketing campaign - and tag - during the Academy Awards broadcast. The bank decided that after four years, the slogan needed to be refreshed. Apparently, the "higher standards" line has been quite popular with bank employees. NYT
Country Coach sale: An L.A. investment group is acquiring the Oregon-based recreational vehicle maker in a $39 million deal. Riley Investment Group is joining with company founder Bob Lee in making the purchase. Lee sold the company to National R.V. in 1996 for $9 million. Eugene Register-Guard
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with Steve Julian on KPCC (7:05) covered the Maguire Properties purchase of Socal office buildings, LAX being snubbed on the A380 test flight and advertising during the Oscars.