Arkansas Best Corp. and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ratified a national five-year labor agreement for the less-than-truckload carrier’s operations. The contract will take effect on Nov. 3, 2013 and run through March 31, 2018. The Fort Smith-based trucker and its union employees have been wrangling for months on issues including wage and vacation reductions, work-rule flexibility, and employee benefits. The new labor agreement will result in an estimated net savings between $55 million to $65 million on an annualized basis, Arkansas Best said.
Allens Canning files for bankruptcy
Allens, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the Siloam Springs-based canner faced an uncertain future.
On Monday (Oct. 28), the vegetable production, canning and distribution business filed documents listing between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors, estimated assets of between $100 million and $500 million, and estimated liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million.
Heber Springs braces for factory layoffs
Saint Jean Industries, a French-based firm with an automobile parts manufacturing facility in Heber Springs, is planning to lay off most of its local work force by year’s end due to the loss of a General Motors contract. City officials confirmed that 300 layoffs were announced at the factory last week. About 40 workers will be retained.
Insurance executives report low marketplace enrollment
About one month into a glitch-filled launch of the online health insurance exchange, carrier participants expressed concern to Arkansas lawmakers over the low enrollment numbers. Insurance company executives told a state legislative panel Wednesday they have enrolled fewer than 170 Arkansans in health insurance plans through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace.
Murphy Oil posts higher q3 net income
Pure-play exploration company Murphy Oil Corp. posted third quarter net income of $284.8 million, a 25% spike from one year ago. The El Dorado-based oil and gas explorer, which spun off its retail and refinery business on Aug. 30, saw revenue climb higher to $2.958 billion from $2.647 billion a year ago. Company officials said higher crude oil production levels contributed to the stronger earnings.
Metropolitan National Bank turns another quarterly profit
Metropolitan National Bank announced a third quarter profit of $1.59 million. For the first three quarters of 2013, the Little Rock-based bank has posted $3.53 million in net income. In September, Metropolitan was acquired by Pine Bluff-based Simmons First for $53.6 million. Metropolitan’s parent company, Rogers Bancshares, had filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year following the death of its principal owner Doyle Rogers. The merger is expected to close at the end of December 2013 and the two banks will consolidate during the first quarter of 2014.
Walmart promotes 25,000 workers, critics respond
Wal-Mart promoted 25,000 workers to jobs that paid more and added employee responsibility, a move to combat critics who say the retail giant has cut hours for full-time workers. Wal-Mart said it expects to promote more than 160,000 employees this year. At any given time, the company said it has between 15,000 and 50,000 job openings in the U.S.
Business leaders push for immigration reform
Business leaders from Arkansas flew to Washington on Tuesday to ask members of the Arkansas House delegation to support immigration reform. The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive reform measure earlier this summer, but House members have advocated a piecemeal approach to remedying concerns regarding border security, documentation guidelines, and visa reform for knowledge-based industries.
Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net