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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal magistrate has ordered BP to pay more than $130 million in fees to the court-supervised administrator of its multibillion-dollar settlement with Gulf Coast businesses and residents after the company’s 2010 oil spill. U.S. Magistrate Sally Shushan ruled Wednesday that BP is obligated to fund the settlement program’s third-quarter budget even though BP complains that its administrator, Patrick Juneau, hasn’t provided adequate documentation for the requested money.
Shushan did say that BP has “legitimate concerns” about Juneau’s operation of the program. In a letter Monday, BP claims official Maria Travis claimed the program is plagued with problems. In a separate action, BP has asked a federal judge to suspend settlement payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates allegations of misconduct by an attorney who worked on Juneau’s staff.
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Many aren’t quite hitting the right balance. Hundreds of dissatisfied workers at major American companies like Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) and Wendy’s (WEN) have joined protests nationwide in the past year demanding higher wages and better benefits.
One company that hasn’t had to deal with such strikes is Costco.The no-frills warehouse chain pays its hourly workers an average of just over $20 an hour, compared to just under $13 at competitor Wal-Mart. Even President Obama praised Costco in a recent speech about helping the middle class. The recession has been good for companies that targeted budget-minded customers. Sales at Costco (COST, Fortune 500) have grown an average of 13% annually since 2009, while profits have risen 15%. Its stock price has more than doubled since 2009.During the same period, discount retailer Wal-Mart’s sales grew an average of 4.5% each year, profits rose 7%, and its stock price increased 70%.
Costco seems to be investing some of those profits back into its employees.
Cesar Martinez, a 37-year-old fork lift operator, has worked at a Costco in North California for 19 years. He makes $22.82 an hour, gets health benefits and a pension plan. He manages to save, and doesn’t worry about hospital bills for his daughter, who suffers from asthma.”That’s the reason why I’ve been here for so long,” he said. “The company gives you a decent wage and treats you with respect and takes care of you. That’s why we all give 100%.”
Some experts say companies aren’t able to adopt the Costco model, because they can’t charge its $55 annual membership fee.
The first lady turned to hip-hop to her promote childhood obesity campaign.
She is distributing a hip-hop album complete with 10 music videos and 19 tracks to support her “Let’s Move!” nutrition program.
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