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Ruling could ease way for unionizing at fast-food chains

(MGN Online Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — It could be easier for unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions on behalf of millions of workers at McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food chains after a National Labor Relations Board ruling on Thursday.

The ruling, which came from a case involving a waste management company and its staffing company, refines the board's standard for determining when parties can be identified as employers.

The decision could have broader implications for unions that have struggled to organize workers at fast-food restaurants, which are often run by franchisees who consider themselves small business owners, but pay fees and adhere to standards set by companies like Wendy's and Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

Those companies have said they do not have control over decisions about hiring, firing or pay at locations run by franchisees. That has made it difficult for unions to organize workers across an entire restaurant chain, since they would have to deal with a patchwork of hundreds or thousands of franchisees.

But the labor relations board's ruling could make it easier for unions to bargain with corporations like McDonald's on behalf of workers instead. In its decision, the National Labor Relations Board said Browning-Ferris Industries is a joint employer along with Leadpoint Business Services, a staffing agency that supplied it with workers.

In evaluating whether a party would qualify as a joint employer, the board said Thursday that it will consider factors such as whether the party exercised control over the terms of employment "indirectly through an intermediary, or whether it has reserved the authority to do so." Previously, parties had to have exercised "direct operational and supervisory control" over an employee to be considered joint employers.

Republic Services, the parent company of Browning-Ferris, said the ruling overturned "30 years of settled law."

"This unnecessary change to decades-old law is legally wrong and disappointing, and could have an unwarranted impact on existing business relationships across many industries," the company said in a statement.

The International Franchise Association, which represents franchisors such as McDonald's Corp., also opposed the ruling.

The Service Employees International Union also is leading cases before the labor relations board, alleging labor violations at multiple McDonald's locations around the country. In those charges, which have not yet been heard, McDonald's Corp. is named as a joint employer.

Labor groups have argued that McDonald's and others should be considered joint employers along with franchisees, since they exert so much control over how franchisees run their businesses.

In its ruling Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board noted that there were more than 2.8 million workers in the U.S. who were employed through temporary agencies last summer, and that its previous joint employer standard has "failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances."

The Teamsters Union said the board's decision would help protect millions of workers by holding employers that rely on temporary or contracted workers accountable.

"Today's decision is another step to show that companies can no longer claim they are not employers when problems arise," the Teamsters said in its statement.

Twitter tries to lure in users as it searches for CEO

In this Nov. 6, 2013 file photo, the Twitter bird logo is on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter's most urgent task is naming a new CEO. But the most formidable one is convincing more people that its service is essential, easy to use and not just meant for celebrities, 16-year-olds and news junkies.

To help with the latter, there are big promotions, such as last year's World Cup push and this year's expanded content and advertising deal with the NFL to help broaden its audience.

There are also smaller tweaks designed to help people find new features or take advantage of tools they might not have been aware of.

And there's just explaining the basics.

Recently, some Twitter users got a message saying "Retweet to share what interests you with your followers."

While elementary advice for some, the note shows Twitter is still trying to teach people how to use its service. Retweeting, in Twitter lingo, means blasting out someone else's Twitter post to your own followers, sort of like an email forward.

Although its brand is widely known and its service boasts more than 300 million users, Twitter has been struggling to widen its appeal and its user growth has slowed down dramatically. Facebook, in comparison, has nearly 1.5 billion members.

"(We) have unbelievably high brand awareness globally," said co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey during the company's most recent conference call to discuss its financial results. "People all over the world know of the power of Twitter, but it's not clear why they should harness it themselves."

With user-growth slowing, Twitter's management has acknowledged that the service is too confusing to navigate. Finance chief Anthony Noto said the company has "not clearly communicated Twitter's unique value" and as a result, people who don't use Twitter continue ask why they should.

"We have not delivered on meeting the new potential users' expectations of Twitter when they try the product," Noto said in the July 28 call. "Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use. As Jack mentioned, we need to simplify the product so everyone can get value from Twitter faster."

Dorsey took Twitter's helm as interim CEO after Dick Costolo stepped down on July 1 amid criticism over Twitter's disappointing financial performance and stock-price decline. Besides Dorsey, Adam Bain, head of revenue and partnerships, is also seen a top contender for the post of permanent CEO.

Shares of San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. rose $1.10, or 4.4 percent, to $26.13 in afternoon trading Thursday amid a broader market rally. Still, the stock is down more than 27 percent year-to-date and only slightly above the $26 price of its November 2013 initial public stock offering.

Girls named Destiny questioned in cliffside vandalism case

This Tuesday, May 5, 2015 file photo provided by the Ada County Sheriff’s office shows a message "Destiny, Prom?" painted in large pink and blue letters on the side of the Black Cliffs east of Boise. (Patrick Orr/Ada County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Sheriff's deputies have interviewed more than a dozen girls named "Destiny" trying to crack a vandalism case where someone spray-painted a prom invitation on a southwest Idaho cliffside.

But Ada County Sheriff's Office spokesman Patrick Orr says that the case remains unsolved.

Authorities in May discovered the message "Destiny, Prom?" painted in large pink and blue letters on the side of the Black Cliffs, a popular rock climbing spot, east of Boise.

The person could face a misdemeanor charge of injury by graffiti, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

The sheriff's office says new leads might emerge now that school is back in session.

Officials have painted over the graffiti.

'Sister Wives' cite gay marriage ruling in polygamy case

(MGN Online Photo)

LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A polygamous family says the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage shows that laws restricting consensual adult relationships are outdated, even if certain unions are unpopular.

Kody Brown and his four wives argue in court documents that their reality TV show "Sister Wives" shows polygamous marriages can be as healthy as monogamous ones.

"The Browns were investigated and no crimes or harm was found in their plural family," attorney Jonathan Turley wrote in court documents filed Wednesday in front of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He has said the family is prepared to take the legal fight to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

The Browns are defending a legal victory they won in 2013, when a federal judge struck down key parts of Utah's law banning polygamy. Advocacy groups for polygamy and individual liberties called the ruling a significant decision that removed the threat of arrest for the state's plural families.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes appealed, saying courts have long upheld laws banning polygamy because they prevent abuse of women and children.

Unlike same-sex marriage advocates, the Browns are not seeking full legal recognition of polygamous marriages. That portion of Utah's bigamy law prohibiting multiple marriages license was left in place by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups when he decided that a provision of the state law forbidding cohabitation violated the family's freedom of religion.

In most polygamous families, the man is legally married to one woman but only "spiritually married" to the others.

The teaching that polygamy brings exaltation in heaven is a legacy of the early Mormon church, but the mainstream Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice in 1890 and strictly prohibits it today.

Rogue River Police arrest domestic assault, arson suspect
Photo by Rogue River Police

By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

ROGUE RIVER, Ore.-- Rogue River police arrested a man on charges of felony domestic assault and arson on Thursday just above the Rogue River, according to police.

Aaron Berry, 36, of Rogue River was taken into custody around 9:30 a.m. 

According to police, Berry allegedly injured a female in his household by holding a hot pan to her neck and by punching her. Berry also allegedly tried to set the house on fire, but the three fires he started were extinguished by the victim.

Rogue River Police say they also received information that he started a fire above Rogue River one night this week, but that it was extinguished by witnesses.

Berry has been lodged in Jackson County jail. The investigation is ongoing.

Audit: Oregon Lottery can't detect illegal casinos
(MGN Online Photo)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A state audit says the Oregon Lottery is unable to detect businesses that may be using video poker machines to operate as illegal casinos.

The audit was released Thursday by the secretary of state's office.

The Oregon constitution prohibits "casinos" but doesn't define them.  

Auditors say that lottery officials use subjective measures to enforce the rule, such as whether a business looks like a casino. Auditors found many retailers that derived more than half of their income from lottery machines.

Auditors recommend that lottery officials put more emphasis on evaluating a retailer's sources of income and work with the Legislature to come up with a firm definition of "casino."

Lottery director Jack Roberts says actions that might diminish lottery revenue would lower funding for schools, parks and economic development.

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FDA issues warning letters to "natural" tobacco makers

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to the makers of Winston, Natural Spirit and Nat Sherman cigarettes over their "additive-free" and "natural" label claims.

Consumer Info

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POLICE CHIEF DELIVERS OWN BABY

DENVER (AP) -- Police officers have been known to deliver babies in the line of duty.

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IN THE NEWS: ON-AIR SHOOTING PLAYS OUT ONLINE

MONETA, Va. (AP) -- Not only was yesterday's shooting of a TV news crew in Virginia a crime for the ages, it was also a crime for our age: the age of the Internet and social media.

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