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SeaWorld is temporarily laying off over 90% of employees

“Our parks will remain closed and are unable to generate revenue; therefore, we have made the painful but necessary business decision to temporarily furlough over 90% of our current workforce, including corporate employees, to position the company for long-term viability,” SeaWorld shared Friday in a statement with CNN Business.

It is unknown how long the employees will be laid off, according to SeaWorld.
The company, which operates 12 theme parks around the United States, announced on March 13 it was closing down all its locations. “During this time, animal care experts will continue to look after the health and welfare of the animals in our care,” it wrote on March 13. On Friday, it said this continues to be the case.
SeaWorld’s (SEAS) stock fell 10.56% after the market closed on Friday.

The tourism industry has been badly battered by the coronavirus.

Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, started furloughing its employees on March 17, saying in a statement to CNN Business that it was “experiencing significant drops in demand.”

Disney (DIS) closed its eleven theme parks across North America, Europe and Asia in mid-March. Universal Orlando Resort announced it, too, would temporarily shut dow its theme parks starting at the close of business on March 15.

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US Steel is closing a Detroit-area steel mill and laying off 1,500 workers

The mill, called the Great Lakes Works, is expected to close its iron and steelmaking operations by April 1. The part of the mill that rolls slabs into sheets of steel will shutter by the end of next year. About 1,500 jobs will be lost, the company said. US Steel had already announced a temporary layoff of about 200 workers at the plant earlier this year.

The company may keep some adjoining operations and a warehouse open if justified by customer demand, it said. But it will shift the steel production to a plant in Gary, Indiana, where it recently made a $750 million investment.

“We are conscious of the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families, and the local community, and we are announcing it now to provide them with as much time as possible to prepare for this transition,” said CEO David Burritt. “These decisions are never easy, nor are they taken lightly.”

The company said it will focus its operations making sheets of steel at three other mills. One is a mill outside of Pittsburgh, where it is in the process of a $1 billion upgrade to a more efficient casting operation. The other mills are the mill in Gary and Big River Steel, an Arkansas company it is in the process of purchasing. It is also remaining in the steel tube business, in which it recently invested $280 million on an Alabama electric furnace to melt steel scrap into new steel products. But in addition to the layoffs and the dividend cut, the company plans to cut its capital spending plans by $75 million in 2020. It also expects other cost cuts, including labor costs, to save an additional $75 million.

“In order to further accelerate our strategy of creating a world-competitive…US Steel, we must make deliberate but difficult operational decisions. In this case, current market conditions and the long-term outlook for Great Lakes Works made it imperative that we act now, allowing us to better align our resources to deliver cost or capability differentiation across our footprint,” said Burritt.

The company and the rest of the domestic steel industry were supposed to get help from a 25% tariff on steel imports put in place in 2018 by the Trump administration. But after a short-term rise in steel prices, they have retreated and problems have returned to the industry. In October US Steel reported its first loss since tariffs were imposed.

Peter Navarro, the White House’s director of the office of trade and manufacturing policy, told CNN Friday that the layoffs and closing of the US Steel mill were a sign of problems at the company, and not the tariffs or US trade policy.

“I think the bet [on tariffs] is paying off beautifully,” he said. “We are very bullish on the steel and aluminum industries because of the tariffs. If they weren’t in place, those industries would be in very bad shape right now.”

As far as US Steel’s situation, Navarrow said the company “did not adapt with the times. They are paying for it dearly.”

The company also announced it is cutting its dividend by 80% to 1 cent a share. And after previously announcing it would suspend share repurchases, it announced Thursday that it was formally ending its share repurchase program. Shares of US Steel (X) were down 8% in early trading Friday, leaving shares down 32% for the year.

— CNN Business’ Matt Egan contributed to this report

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Juul is laying off 650 people in a $1 billion cost-cutting plan

Much of the $1 billion in cuts Juul hopes to make will hit the company’s marketing department. Juul has agreed to pause its marketing effort as regulators claim the company was trying to push its products on teens.

Juul said it would cut 650 jobs and phase out the position of chief marketing officer. In October, it said it would cut about 500 jobs. The 650 job cuts represent about 16% of Juul’s global workforce.

At its peak earlier this year, Juul was hiring an average of 300 people per month. Juul said the layoffs are part of its effort to “right-size the business.” The slimmed down strategy is part of Juul’s broader efforts to regain public trust.

The company’s future advertising efforts will focus on direct marketing. It’s still enforcing its strategy of not advertising on TV, in print or online.

Juul said it will continue to invest in its product team as the company explores “new technologies to combat underage use,” it said in a statement. Juul, for example is developing a Bluetooth-connected smoking device.

“As the vapor category undergoes a necessary reset, this reorganization will help JUUL Labs focus on reducing underage use, investing in scientific research, and creating new technologies while earning a license to operate in the US and around the world,” Juul CEO KC Crosthwaite said.

Crosthwaite issued that same statement last month when he announced the departure of four executives, including the chief marketing officer, chief financial officer, senior vice president of advanced technologies and chief administrative officer.

Altria (MO), which invested $12.8 billion for a 35% stake in Juul in 2018, hasn’t seen its returns flourish. The Marlboro-owner recently announced it was taking a $4.5 billion writedown on its investment in Juul.
Juul’s value deteriorated as concerns mounted about the health risks of vaping and US regulators pushed for a crackdown on e-cigarettes. Juul was also criticized for selling pods with flavors like mango, creme and cucumber that became popular with teens. It stopped selling its popular mint pods last week.
Tuesday’s shakeup is the latest of changes instituted by Crosthwaite since being named as CEO in late September. He was previously the chief growth officer at tobacco company Altria. In October, he gave Joe Murillo, another former Altria executive and Juul’s chief regulatory officer, more power. The company’s government affairs, corporate responsibility and scientific affairs executives all now report to him.
Several states are moving to ban e-cigarettes altogether and top retailers, like Walmart (WMT), have announced they would no longer sell vaping products. Vaping lung injuries have topped 2,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Juul is bracing for a decision from the US Food and Drug Administration on a final rule that would remove some flavored nicotine vaping products from the US market. It has refrained from lobbying the administration on its draft flavor guidance.

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‘Kids were laying in the street:’ 6-year-old killed in hit-and-run involving 3 children

MILWAUKEE — Three children were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street near 22nd Street and Center Street Thursday evening, Oct. 24, and one died. The striking driver did not stop.

Police said the hit-and-run crash happened around 5:30 p.m. when a driver disregarded a red light. According to police, the crash involved a 10-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old girl — as well as two vehicles. Officials were not sure if the children were struck by both of the vehicles — but said both vehicles fled the scene.

“It was six kids in all,” said Shanterika Rayford. “Three of them just didn’t make it across the street.”

The 6-year-old girl died. The other two children, including the 6-year-old’s sister and cousin, were seriously hurt.

Hit-and-run crash scene near 22nd and Center

Rayford said her son, Drevyze, was the 10-year-old who was hurt in this incident.

“This is heartbreaking right now for us because they’re all small kids,” said Rayford. “They’re very small kids. The injuries and impact they endured, their bodies can’t hold up to it, you know, so we’re hoping for the best.”

Hit-and-run crash scene near 22nd and Center

“I touched her,” said Shawanna McGruder, witness. “I began to pray for her — just traumatizing. I began to pray immediately. Those babies, just watching them lay there, I don’t know how to feel right now.”

“I heard a loud ‘boom,'” said Anthony Quin, witness. “Kids were laying in the street, and it was just bad. It was bad.”

Hit-and-run crash scene near 22nd and Center

“Just innocent kids crossing the street,” said Assistant Chief Raymond Banks of the Milwaukee Police Department. “I’ve been doing this for 28 years and I’m always a little bit emotional when it comes to our kids because the kids are so vulnerable — and the adults have to, the community, not just the parents, the community is responsible for the safety of the kids, and when these kinds of things happens, nobody wins. It’s a tragedy for everybody involved.”

Data pix.

Hit-and-run crash scene near 22nd and Center

The striking vehicle was described as a 2007-2009 Saturn Aura, gray in color, with front end damage and tinted windows.

“How can you leave an accident like that?” said Quin. “You hit kids and you just leave. Why do you leave?”

Medical examiner: 1 dead in hit-and-run crash at 22nd and Center

Crash scene near 22nd and Center, Milwaukee

Anyone with any information was asked to please contact Milwaukee police at ‪414-935-7360.


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