Category Archives: Business

Frontier Airlines Flight Attendants Prepare For Strike

DENVER (CBS4) – Frontier Airlines flight attendants say they’re ready to strike. The group has been negotiating with the airline for a new contract.

On Friday, the flight attendants voted to authorize a strike, however that doesn’t mean they’ll walk off the job anytime soon.

A strike would only happen if federal mediators decide there is no hope the two side will come to an agreement.

Last week, Frontier’s pilots reached a tentative agreement on a new contract after more than two years of negotiations.

California Unemployment Rate Holds At Record Low 4.1 Percent

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California’s unemployment rate held at the record low of 4.1 percent in October as employers added 36,400 nonfarm payroll jobs, the state Employment Development Department said Friday.

The rate first hit the record low in September after spending months just a notch higher at 4.2 percent.

In October 2017, California’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.

The unemployment and job growth numbers continue trends seen over recent years, said Michael Bernick, a former director of the Employment Development Department and now a fellow at the Milken Institute.

“We’ve now had 103 months of employment expansion — the second longest post-World War II expansion, after the 113 month expansion in the late 1960s,” he said in a statement.

Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at the SS Economics consulting firm, said in a statement that the increases were broadly based and show there is no economic slowdown yet in California.

Prosperity in the state has spread, and, while the Central Valley agricultural heartland and the inland Southern California region have not experienced the boom seen along the state’s coast, only two of 58 counties now have a jobless rate exceeding 7 percent, he said. That compares to 11 counties not long ago.

“The word is out that there are good-paying jobs to be had and students, mothers and people on disability are rejoining the labor force,” he wrote.

On the concerning side, he pointed to slowdowns in employment gains in high tech over recent months due to lack of skilled people and the high cost of living, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. He noted weaker employment growth in software, data processing, motion picture and sound recording fields.

Sohn also cautioned that if trade friction with China persists and increases, there will be a reckoning for California because of its dependence on trade with that nation.

“Once the economy softens and the job market shrinks at some point in the future, the labor force would shrink again,” he wrote.

Bernick noted that the October numbers do not reflect any employment impacts of this month’s deadly wildfires.

The fires and especially the Northern California fire “will have employment impacts in lost jobs, but these impacts will not significantly impact the unemployment rate or job growth numbers, given that our California’s economy now has more than 17 million payroll jobs,” he said.

Bernick said in the short term there will be jobs in cleanup and debris removal, and over time rebuilding in Northern California will bring new economic resources into the region and growth of construction jobs.

The unemployment rate record dates to 1976, when current methodology was established.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Meat Producer Agrees To $4 Million Payment To Settle Labor Claims

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) – The U.S. branch of the world’s largest meat producer will pay $4 million in back wages and other monetary relief as part of a consent decree settling allegations by federal labor officials.

The Greeley Tribune reports the U.S. Department of Labor claimed in two actions that JBS USA discriminated based on race and gender against applicants for laborer positions at its facilities in Hyrum, Utah, and Cactus, Texas.

The company with U.S. headquarters in Greeley, Colorado, has agreed to pay 12,625 class members at those facilities and hire 1,664 of the applicants.

It has also agreed to retain an independent workplace consultant to review and revise its hiring process.

Spokesman Cameron Bruett says in a statement JBS USA denies the allegations, but it believes “more can be accomplished through partnership.”

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Bag Drops Debut At DIA’s Pikes Peak And Mt. Elbert Shuttle Lots

DENVER (CBS4) – Air travelers who leave their cars parked in one of the remote shuttle lots at Denver International Airport have a new option that should make their busy travel day a little easier.

shuttle bags 1 Bag Drops Debut At DIAs Pikes Peak And Mt. Elbert Shuttle Lots

(credit: CBS)

Instead of having to lug suitcases onto the shuttle buses at the Pikes Peak Lot and the Mt. Elbert Lot and bring them in to the airline counter, travelers can now check their bags and get their boarding passes at the lots. It works like curbside checking and it’s a free service (but travelers will still have to pay whatever bag fees they may owe).

shuttle bags 2 Bag Drops Debut At DIAs Pikes Peak And Mt. Elbert Shuttle Lots

(credit: CBS)

The service is called Bags and it made its debut on Thursday.

“I think it’s great. It really is convenient and really fast. So you don’t have to wait in line. You can just go right through. Fantastic,” traveler Laura Cooper told CBS4.

It’s only available for travelers on domestic flights on Southwest, United, Delta and American Airlines and it’s available daily starting at 2 a.m. On Friday’s it is available until 7 p.m. and every other day the service shuts down at 4 p.m.

Get more information at diaparking.maketraveleasier.com/Kiosk

Firm That Worked For Facebook Tried To Plant Story Alleging Liberal Bias At Apple News

(CNN) — The conservative public affairs firm that worked for Facebook, and spread opposition research about the social media company’s critics and competitors, tried to get at least one journalist to do a story suggesting that the editors of Apple’s news application were biased against Republicans.

The firm provided little evidence to back up its claim.

The Apple News app is preloaded onto all new iPhones; millions of users access news on it every day. Apple employs editors who curate some of the stories featured on the app.

Definers Public Affairs, which Facebook fired on Wednesday after a New York Times report revealed the company had dug up information on Facebook’s critics and competitors, tried to show that staff working on Apple News had donated more money to Democratic candidates and causes than they had to Republicans.

Facebook told CNN Business that this research on Apple was not done on its behalf.

Definers sent the document, which was titled “Apple News Curators’ Political Donations,” as an unsolicited pitch to a CNN employee this summer.

The case the firm tried to make alleging political bias at Apple News was weak. As the dossier itself acknowledged, it was not even clear that all of the political donors it had found were Apple News employees or whether they were just people who shared similar names.

“30 individuals have been identified as working for Apple in media curation roles or specifically at Apple News. Five of these individuals have contributed to Democratic candidates or causes,” the document claimed. It also said that only one person connected to Apple News who had contributed to Republicans had been identified.

The document included screenshots of the employees’ LinkedIn profiles and details of their alleged donations.

The evidence was not very compelling.

One of the five employees Definers said were Democrats had donated $55 to Democratic candidates and causes in 2018, according to the firm.

Definers claimed another employee had donated $11,500, before acknowledging that it had not confirmed if the person “who made these contributions is the same individual that currently works for Apple News.”

Facebook also faced allegations of political bias in 2016 when it had a curated news feature edited by people rather than machines. The company scrapped the feature entirely after the controversy.

In a statement provided to CNN Business on Thursday night, a Facebook spokesperson said of Definers’ Apple News research, “This was not a project done for Facebook.”

Definers did not respond to CNN Business’ request for comment about the Apple News dossier.

On Thursday, after Facebook disclosed that it had ended its relationship with the firm, a spokesperson for Definers said in a statement, “We are proud to have partnered with Facebook over the past year on a range of public affairs services. All of our work is based on publicly-available documents and information.”

It released another statement on Friday. In that statement, it said, “To be clear: Definers was not hired by Facebook as an opposition research firm. That might be the sexy story for media outlets because several of us have spent years doing research and communications for high-stakes political campaigns, but that was not the scope of work we had for Facebook.

“In fact, Definers’ main services for Facebook were basic media monitoring and public relations around public policy issues facing the company. We ran a large-scale news alert service keeping hundreds of Facebook staff informed on news stories about the company and its policy challenges.”

Tim Miller, who lists himself on his LinkedIn profile as a partner at Definers, told the Times that Definers’ work on Apple had been funded by a third technology company, not Facebook. CNN Business has not yet confirmed the identity of that third company.

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

© Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David’s Bridal Is Filing For Bankruptcy, But They Say Your Dress Is Safe

(CBS) — David’s Bridal confirmed bankruptcy suspicions in a statement on Thursday, ending a seemingly eternal will-they-won’t-they rumor cycle of restructuring. The debt-saddled discount wedding dress chain said the filing will come “very soon.” The chain has six stores in Colorado — in Aurora, Lone Tree, Westminster, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction.

The company plans to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a type of filing that allows distressed companies to reorganize their debts and liabilities without interrupting operations or closing stores. David’s Bridal had already come to an agreement with a “vast majority” of its lenders to shed $400 million of debt and inject enough cash into the business to keep operations and growth prospects, according to the statement.

In other words, they are telling brides their dresses are safe.

“We are, and will continue to be, open for business,” said Scott Key, David’s Bridal chief executive officer, in a video released Thursday. Key said all brides would receive their dresses on time.

But not everyone is convinced. In July 2017, bridal chain Alfred Angelo closed shop and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a move that left hundreds of brides without dresses, even after paying for them. After closing unexpectedly, the store told its customers that if they hadn’t received their dress yet, they wouldn’t receive them.

gettyimages 858131718 Davids Bridal Is Filing For Bankruptcy, But They Say Your Dress Is Safe

(credit: iStock/Getty Images)

One L.A. bride, Dullah Khalil, had friends lose dresses in the Alfred Angelo aftermath and told CBS News she doesn’t want to take any chances, despite the company’s reassurances. Khalil purchased a floor sample from a David’s Bridal store in February, paid for her alterations in advance and the tailor was set to begin later this month.

Because it was a sample rather than a regular custom order, the store offered to clean it, but then the store temporarily lost the dress with no explanation for two months.

With her dream dress back in her possession, she’s reluctant to hand it over in case she can’t get it back.

“I still don’t trust it at this point, I’d rather just cut my losses,” Khalil said in a telephone interview with CBS News on Thursday. “It’s not just the money, but the actual dress that I love. I don’t want to lose it.”

When Khalil asked David’s Bridal for her money back, nearly $300, the company refused.

Khalil said knew she wanted to buy a David’s Bridal dress long before an engagement was on the table. While living in London, Khalil went to the store’s opening in 2012 with a friend and was in awe.

“It was plush and really quite luxurious, just such a nice experience,” Khalil said.

But when it was her turn to find a dress, Khalil said the experience was underwhelming and a bit disappointing. “I feel that’s hemorrhaged along the way,” Khalil said.

PG&E Unlikely To Go Bankrupt Because Of Wildfires, Stock Soars

(CNN) — Shares of California electric company PG&E soared Friday on new hopes that the company won’t have to go bankrupt if it is found to be liable for the massive Camp Fire in Northern California.

The wildfire, which has now been blamed for the deaths of 63 people, started in the early morning of November 8. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. But PG&E (PCG) disclosed in a regulatory filing earlier this week that it “experienced an outage” on a transmission line just 15 minutes before the Camp Fire broke out.

That news led to a more than 60% plunge in the stock in the past week as investors worried that the utility did not have the financial resources to cover legal liabilities tied to the fire.

Lawyers representing victims of the fire have already filed two class action lawsuits against PG&E. And Fitch Ratings downgraded PG&E’s credit rating Friday, citing potential for PG&E to pay huge liabilities. If PG&E is found to have sparked the wildfires, Fitch said it could downgrade its stock several more notches into “junk” territory.

ALSO READ: 

But the stock was up 36% Friday after the president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) suggested that the state would work with PG&E to ensure that it would not be permanently crippled by lawsuits.

“An essential component of providing safe electrical service is the financial wherewithal to carry out safety measures,” said CPUC president Michael Picker in a statement.

Picker added that as a result of a new law signed by California governor Jerry Brown last year, the CPUC is now required to consider a utility’s finances when determining the maximum amount it can pay without harming customers when evaluating damages caused by wildfires.

As part of the bill that Brown signed a bill, PG&E will now be able to issue bonds backed by surcharges from its customers. Those bonds will help pay for damages tied to deadly California wildfires in October 2017 caused by faulty PG&E equipment.

The bill allows for the possibility that utilities could issue similar bonds for future fires, but that is not guaranteed.

In a separate interview with Bloomberg late Thursday, Picker said “it’s not good policy to have utilities unable to finance the services and infrastructure the state of California needs. They have to have stability and economic support to get the dollars they need right now.”

Even after Friday’s big rally, PG&E is still more than 45% below where it was trading the day before the fire started.

PG&E has previously indicated that it renewed its liability insurance coverage for wildfire events for an amount of approximately $1.4 billion that covers the period from August 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019.

But the estimated damages are rising rapidly. Moody’s said earlier this week that it could cost up to $6.8 billion, while Citigroup estimates the damages could be as high as $15 billion.

The utility’s total market value is now below $10 billion though, and PG&E said in its filing that it currently has just $3.46 billion in cash after borrowing from an existing revolving credit line.

That’s why it will be critical for the state of California to assist PG&E if it is found liable for the Camp Fire.

“We agree with CPUC President Picker’s statement that an essential component of providing safe electrical service is long-term financial stability,” PG&E said in a statement. “Access to affordable capital is critical to carrying out safety measures and meeting California’s bold clean energy goals.”

© Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – A competition among Colorado veterans running their own startup companies awarded the winner $25,000 this week as part of an effort to get more members of the military to become entrepreneurs in the Rocky Mountain region.

startup 2 Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

Josh Phifer (credit: CBS)

“I founded Barn Owl to help ranchers and farmers to monitor remote assets,” said Josh Phifer, founder & CEO of Barn Owl, the winning company. “I grew up on a ranch right on the Wyoming-Nebraska border so I understand the problem of driving around for many hours to check on assets.”

The business offers cameras that can send photos and videos to an app on a cellular connection. It helps people living and working in remote areas where options are limited for this type of system. Phifer says he focused on offering a reliable and affordable service based on his experience working on the family ranch.

“We focus on connectivity in remote areas,” he said. “You can’t use Wi-Fi, there’s no infrastructure for wires, it’s the middle of nowhere.”

startup 5 Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

(credit: CBS)

startup 1 Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

(credit: CBS)

The company is two years old and he has used the past year on selling the cameras to customers. A veteran of the Air Force, he was active duty for 12 years and continues to serve in Reserve Command.

“As a military veteran, starting a tech company, you’re starting on the ground level,” said Phifer. “You’re network is not really built around building a tech company.”

He was one of five finalists in the Rocky Mountain Veteran Pitch Competition. The Downtown Denver Partnership founded Rocky Mountain Veterans and supports The Commons of Champa, which hosted the event on Monday. It is part of the organization’s mission to advance the rate of entrepreneurship in the region among military veterans.

“It’s very important to us right now,” he said. “We’re a bootstrap startup so $25,000 goes a long way.”

The Commons funded the grant with support form the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foudnation, and other corporate sponsors. The five finalists had to make their pitches on Monday night to a panel of judges representing investors, business owners and other corporate leaders.

Phifer and the other finalists made it to the last round of the competition after making it to the semi-final round among 25 contenders. He learned about the opportunity from a mentor, who recommended he enter the contest.

startup 6 Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

(credit: CBS)

“When you come out of the military, you don’t have a business background,” he said. “It’s really intimidating.”

Veterans have a better track record of starting businesses compared to non-veterans, according to Phifer. But he says it is a difficult transition for a group of military servicemen and women used to a steady income and following protocol. They bring several advantages as well. Grit and persistence plus experience on a team in high stress scenarios all benefit veterans in the business world.

Barn Owl is helping family ranchers reduce their monitoring labor by 60 percent, which can mean $20,000 a year, according to Phifer.

“Growing up in that, I understand the problem of never seeing friends and family,” he said. “Because you have to be doing things like checking on water, checking on livestock, checking on gates.”

His surveillance system is helping ranchers in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska. Families that are often responsible for 20 to 30 square miles of land. But he says some commercial operations as large as 100 square miles also use the product.

startup 3 Startup That Helps Ranchers With Connectivity Wins Veteran Competition

(credit: CBS)

He plans to use the money to help cover the marketing expense needed to introduce his business to more customers. Phifer says it is not just for ranchers but also hunters and remote construction sites.

Named after the animal known for its night vision and excellent hearing, he says Barn Owl is a tribute to his time in the Air Force flying the Raptor and the Eagle aircraft.

The product is weatherproof and can be left untouched for up to a year without the owner having to check on it. He’s grateful for the feedback from customers showing the difference it is making in their weekly routine.

“It’s changing their lives, they now have time for their family on Sundays,” said Phifer.

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

Amid Fires, CPUC Expanding Investigation Into PG&E’s Safety Culture

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A new phase is opening in the investigation into PG&E’s safety culture, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission said in a statement Thursday.

Michael Picker said, “I will open a new phase examining the corporate governance, structure, and operation of PG&E, including in light of the recent wildfires, to determine the best path forward for Northern Californians to receive safe electrical and gas service in the future.”

PG&E was sued Tuesday by victims of the Camp Fire following a sign the company may be responsible for the start of the fire in Butte County.

Just prior to the start of the fire on Nov. 8, PG&E reported power went out on a transmission line in the area.

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The Camp Fire is the worst in state history. As of Thursday evening, the fire has burned 141,000 acres, killed 63 people and destroyed approximately 9,700 homes.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet, according to Cal Fire.

Terrie Prosper, spokeswoman for the commission, said it would not be in the best interest of consumers if PG&E filed for bankruptcy, “but that decision is not the CPUC’s.”

“An essential component of providing safe electrical service is ensuring that the utilities have the financial wherewithal to carry out safety measures,” she said.

One way companies can raise money is to issue stocks and bonds.

Prosper would not say whether the commission can recommend PG&E be turned into a nonprofit, so the company does not have to answer to stockholders.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Schumer Deflects Claims That He Pushed Colleagues To Go Easy On Facebook

(CNN) — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer defended himself Thursday against a report that he encouraged his colleagues to go easy on Facebook amid investigations into the social media giant’s role in spreading Russian misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

According to the New York Times, Schumer urged Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to find ways to work with Facebook rather than harm it.

Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a statement Thursday that the New York senator “has worked aggressively to push Facebook to do more to purge fake accounts and bots used by the right wing and Russians to perpetuate a disinformation campaign and interfere with our elections.”

“Schumer has worried that Facebook would bow to pressure from Republicans, who oppose the purging of the fake accounts and bots, and has urged Senator Warner and the Senate Intelligence committee to make this the priority in their ongoing investigation of the company,” Goodman added.

Warner declined to answer questions about the Times’ claims on Thursday.

“I’m not going to talk about any private conversations I had with the leader,” Warner told reporters. “He was very aware of the fact that our committee has been relentless, and has still got a lot of questions that need to get answered.”

He added that the Times’ description of Facebook’s efforts to sidestep questions about Russian meddling efforts conducted via its platforms, including Instagram, validated congressional inquiries.

“Frankly, but for the Intelligence inquiry and constant pressure, I think we would be even more in the dark,” Warner said. “And I’m happy to see that there’s greater cooperation now, but clearly this was the case as we suspected that for a number of months, they just hoped this problem was going away.”

Warner’s House intelligence committee counterpart, California Rep. Adam Schiff, told CNN that he didn’t know whether the claims about Schumer are “accurate or not.”

Schiff added that he “certainly” intends to talk to Facebook about the Times’ “concerning” report.

“They were obviously slow to come to grips with what the Russians were doing on their platform and the misuse of their platform,” said Schiff. “If they were deliberately slow to convey that information to us, that’s deeply disturbing.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a conference call Thursday that the company had been too slow to deal with the Russian disinformation problem on its platform in 2016, but said it was “simply untrue” to suggest that he and other executives “weren’t interested in knowing the truth.”

The intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections in part by using social media platforms like Facebook changed the company’s relationship with Washington.

Many members of Congress appear to remain unsure of how to hold the company accountable. During Mark Zuckerberg’s April hearing before senators — the most high-profile showdown between Facebook and Washington — some of the members of Congress seemed either unfamiliar with its business or to treat it with deference.

Schumer has publicly been a Facebook fan.

In March, he told the tech website Recode that Facebook is a “very powerful force.”

“I think overall it’s been a very positive force,” said Schumer. “I think now people are taking advantage of the openness of the net, and Facebook has an obligation to try and deal with it. I’ve talked to them. I truly believe they want to. I truly believe they know that their future is at stake with this. I also believe it’s a hard thing to do.”

© Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.