Business briefs 12/9/03

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Union authorizes action against Pulitzer Inc.

ST. LOUIS -- Newspaper Guild members voted overwhelmingly to authorize action against the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's owner if a year of contract negotiations ends in an impasse. Job actions could include byline strikes, work stoppages, and circulation and advertising boycotts. The last union contract expired Jan. 9, and employees in editorial, advertising, classified, accounting and circulation departments have been working under an extension clause. The Guild says management wants to establish an open shop, which would end mandatory union membership. Union leaders called the open shop is a strategy to "cripple" a union.

House OKs $373 billion federal spending bill

WASHINGTON -- The House approved a $373 billion spending package Monday detailing how nearly every domestic agency will spend its money this year and delivering wins to President Bush on overtime pay, media ownership and other fights. Th bill's fate remained uncertain in the Senate, where Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was leaning toward delaying a vote until late January because of opposition and a reluctance by senators, now on recess, to return to the Capitol.

Conseco targets founder's assets for $218 million

CARMEL, Ind. -- Five years ago, the company Stephen C. Hilbert founded, Conseco Inc., began a descent into bankruptcy, a slide that forced Hilbert to resign. Now, he could lose his riches in a fight that pits him against a company he led for nearly 20 years -- Conseco is making a fresh start with a new board and ownership, and it's seeking $218 million that the company founder took out in loans and now refuses to repay. Among the assets the former CEO could lose is a 25,000-square-foot, French-style mansion on a gated 36 acres of creekside fields and trees he built a decade ago and where he lives with his wife and two children.

Congress approves first national anti-spam bill

WASHINGTON -- Congress on Monday approved the first national effort to stem the flood of unwanted e-mail pitches offering prescription drugs, cheap loans and other come-ons. President Bush has indicated he intends to sign the measure into law. The anti-spam bill encourages the Federal Trade Commission to create a do-not-spam list of e-mail addresses and includes penalties for spammers of up to five years in prison in rare circumstances. The legislation would prohibit senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail from disguising their identity by using a false return address or misleading subject line. It also would prohibit senders from harvesting addresses off Web sites and require such e-mails to include a mechanism so recipients could indicate they did not want future mass mailings. Some critics said the bill didn't go far enough to discourage unwanted e-mails.

-- From wire reports

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