Workers accept concessions in Harley-Davidson contract

Harley-Davidson workers in Wisconsin approved a labor contract Monday laden with steep concessions after the company threatened to move hundreds of production jobs out of the state.

The proposed deal freezes employees’ pay, slashes hundreds of jobs and assigns large volumes of work to part-time workers.

Some 1,140 union members who work at the Menomonee Falls plant in suburban Milwaukee voted on the deal, approving it by a 55 to 45 percent margin.

Union president Mike Masik said the close vote reveals how grudgingly his workers approved the deal.

“It shows people are really getting sick of being threatened,” said Masik, the president of the Local 2-209 chapter of the United Steel Workers.


Hewlett-Packard to acquire network security provider

Hewlett-Packard Co. wants to have the answer to all of its customers’ technology problems. So it is buying network security provider ArcSight Inc. to help them respond to the growing threat posed by hackers, computer viruses and digital fraud.

The $1.5 billion deal announced Monday extends HP’s recent spate of acquisitions and could help signal that even after ousting CEO Mark Hurd, it hasn’t lost its footing in the effort to win fatter profit margins beyond the personal-computer business.

HP continued to brush off concerns that it is paying too much to grow in new areas.

The new deal came just weeks after HP won a bidding contest with Dell Inc. over the data-storage company 3Par Inc., agreeing to pay $2.07 billion, or $33 per share.

ArcSight’s products pull in data from across an organization’s computer networks and translate the information into a format that can be combed for evidence of a security breach, either in real time or after the fact.


Midwest pipeline leak sends oil and gas prices higher

Retail gasoline prices increased Monday as crews continued to work on a broken Midwest pipeline that transports a quarter of the oil imported from Canada to the U.S.

In its weekly report on gasoline pump prices, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said Monday that the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular was $2.721, up about 4 cents from a week ago.

The Midwest showed the biggest jump in regional prices, up 10.4 cents from a week ago to $2.778 a gallon. The average pump price in Chicago was $3.018, up almost 16 cents from a week ago.

The broken Enbridge Energy crude oil pipeline is in Romeoville, Ill., about 30 miles from Chicago.


U.S. budget deficit heading toward second-highest ever

The federal government is on track to record the second-highest deficit of all time with one month left in the budget year.

The deficit totaled $1.26 trillion through August, the Treasury Department said Monday. That puts it on pace to total $1.3 trillion when the budget year ends on Sept. 30, slightly below last year’s record $1.4 trillion deficit.

About one-third of the higher deficits are a result of a drop in tax revenues. The other two-thirds of the deficit increases reflect higher government spending to stabilize the financial system and boost the economy.

Deficits of $1 trillion in a single year had never happened until two years ago.

The $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009 was more than three times the size of the previous record-holder, a $454.8 billion deficit recorded in 2008.


Walmart to begin selling own cell phone service plan

Walmart said Monday it is introducing the first cell phone plan that uses the chain’s own branding, further demonstrating its clout in getting special deals from wireless carriers.

The Walmart Family Mobile service will run on T-Mobile USA’s network. Unlimited calling and texting will cost $45 per month for the first line and $25 for each additional line for the family.

The service will be offered starting next week in most of the chain’s stores across the nation.

Since last year, Walmart has been the exclusive seller of the Straight Talk service, which runs on the Verizon Wireless network. Walmart is also trying out another service from Sprint Nextel Corp. called Common Cents.

Those are both “prepaid” plans, under which customers pay in advance and don’t need to sign contracts.

Walmart Family Mobile will be “postpaid” like conventional contract-based plans, so the bill is paid at the end of the month.