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Briefs

Twinkies squeezed, still alive

Twinkies will live to see another day.

Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union agreed Monday to try to resolve their differences after a bankruptcy court judge noted that the parties hadn’t gone through the critical step of private mediation. That means the maker of the spongy cake with the mysterious cream filling won’t go out of business yet.

The news comes after the maker of Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread last week moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court. Hostess cited a crippling strike started Nov. 9 by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents about 30 percent of Hostess workers.

“Many people, myself included, have serious questions as to the logic behind this strike,” said Judge Robert Drain, who heard the case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York in White Plains, N.Y. “Not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark in this case.”

The mediation talks are set to take place today, with the liquidation hearing set to resume Wednesday if an agreement isn’t reached.

Board pledges action on Wal-Mart walkouts

Federal labor officials said Monday that they will decide quickly whether to support a request by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to stop a union-backed group from encouraging worker walkouts at hundreds of stores Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The world’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. It said that the demonstrations organized by union-backed OUR Walmart threatens to disrupt its business and intimidate customers and other associates.

OUR Walmart, formed in 2010 to press the company for better working conditions, is made up of current and former Wal-Mart workers.

“We are working as fast as we can.” said Nancy Cleeland, a spokeswoman at the NLRB, which is setting a goal of 72 hours since the filing to assess whether the complaint has merit.

GM plans 2nd plant for Chinese budget brand

General Motors Co. and its local Chinese partners have launched a second plant to make cars for its local discount brand Baojun, ratcheting up the battle for customers at the fast-growing lower end of the world’s biggest auto market.

The SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture opened the factory Sunday in southwest Guangxi province.

GM and its partners have invested $1.3 billion in the plant, which will be capable of turning out up to 400,000 vehicles a year.

Banks cut $6.3 billion on mortgage balances

Five of the biggest U.S. banks have cut struggling homeowners’ mortgage balances by $6.3 billion, part of a total $26.1 billion in home loan relief provided under a landmark settlement over foreclosure abuses.

More than 309,000 borrowers received some form of mortgage relief between March 1 and Sept. 30, according to a report issued Monday by Joseph Smith, monitor of the settlement.

That translates to roughly $84,385 per homeowner, according to the report.

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