Wal-Mart Cuts Meat Operations, Squashes Union Movement

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it will shut down its meat-cutting operations in Jacksonville and 179 other stores in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas and sell only prepackaged meat. The move came shortly after butchers at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas, voted 7-3 to unionize their department. The displaced meat cutters will be offered other jobs at their stores.

Wal-Mart Stores said same-store sales rose 6.1 percent for the four weeks ended Feb. 25. Total sales were $13.17 billion, up 23 percent from $10.7 billion. The company has approved a 20 percent increase in the dividend to 24 cents per share annually. The dividend is payable quarterly at the rate of 6 cents with the first payable date on April 10 to shareholders of record on March 17, 2000.

Chevron Corp., Wal-Mart and Oracle Corp. will form an online supply exchange for the convenience store industry. Wal-Mart’s McLane Co. unit, which supplies more than 30,000 convenience stores in the United States, Brazil and Taiwan, will form an independent company with Chevron and Oracle to automate and centralize convenience store purchases online. The exchange, dubbed RetailersMarketX change.com, is designed to reduce costs of supplies by creating a centralized Internet marketplace, the companies said.

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