Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 28, 2018

The Supreme Court deals a blow to public-sector unions, Chipotle says it is closing 65 restaurants, and more


Supreme Court deals blow to unions with fee decision

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that non-union workers can't be forced to pay public-sector unions for collective bargaining, striking down an Illinois law and overturning a 1977 precedent that made the employees pay so-called fair-share fees. It was the latest in a series of 5-4 decisions since Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed, restoring the court's conservative majority after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said making non-union workers pay the fees violated the First Amendment by forcing them to "subsidize" union political activities they don't support. Justice Elena Kagan, in a blistering dissent, said the majority was "weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy."


Chipotle closing 65 restaurants, shaking up marketing

Chipotle Mexican Grill said Wednesday that it would shut as many as 65 underperforming restaurants and revise its marketing approach. Chipotle also said it planned to launch a customer loyalty program next year as part of its effort to win back customers after a series of food safety problems. The restaurant chain also is adding "in-app" delivery of orders in 2,000 of its restaurants by the end of the year. The changes are part of a recovery effort under CEO Brian Niccol. The company's stock has risen by 80 percent since Niccol's hiring was announced in February, but the shares fell by 3.1 percent in after-hours trading in what was interpreted as a sign that investors wanted more details on how Chipotle is revamping its business model.


Proposed Disney-Fox merger gets antitrust approval

Walt Disney Co. won antitrust approval from the Justice Department on Wednesday for its $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets. The agreement requires Disney to sell the Fox Sports Regional Networks, which could otherwise give Disney a near monopoly in sports broadcasting when paired with ESPN. The terms only apply if Disney wins a bidding war with Comcast Corp. and the deal goes through. The approval gives Disney an advantage over Comcast, which is weighing whether to hike its bid. To do that, it might have to team up with private equity investors. Comcast had offered $65 billion to beat an earlier Disney bid, forcing the entertainment giant to sweeten its offer.


Apple and Samsung settle their 7-year legal battle

Apple and Samsung on Wednesday settled a legal fight that started in 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung for allegedly copying the design of the iPhone. Apple initially tried to block Samsung phone sales, but that effort fizzled because the technology was outdated. The focus then turned to money, with Apple seeking as much as $2 billion while Samsung said it should only pay $28 million. A jury in May told Samsung to pay Apple $539 million for patent infringement. The companies did not say how much money would change hands under the settlement.


Amazon unveils program inviting people to launch their own delivery services

Amazon on Thursday announced a program inviting people to start businesses delivering its packages. The online retail giant said entrepreneurs will be able to run their own delivery services, using leased Amazon-branded vans to deliver Amazon packages. The company estimates that people can earn up to $300,000 in annual profit with a fleet of up to 40 vehicles. The program is part of an effort to speed up deliveries of Amazon's ever-increasing number of packages, and reduce its reliance on partners, such as UPS and FedEx. Its deal with the U.S. Postal Service recently came under scrutiny when President Trump, who has clashed with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, said despite evidence to the contrary that the Postal Service was losing money being Amazon's "Delivery Boy."


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