Pilot seniority dispute may create a roadblock in Delta-Northwest talks

ATLANTA - Northwest Airlines Corp. pilots have integration issues to sort out. Not just the ones with their counterparts at Delta Air Lines Inc. that threaten to scuttle talks to combine the two carriers. The ones with Republic Airlines. From 1986.

An arbitrator is still sorting out seniority questions from that deal, illustrating just how much the point matters. Employees at the top of the list get first choice on vacations, the best routes and the bigger planes that they get paid more for flying.

The boards of Delta and Northwest had been expected to vote Wednesday on a combination projected to be worth $20 billion if a pilot deal was in place. Because of the impasse, the meetings could simply be briefings or might be canceled altogether.

Delta and Northwest don't need a labor agreement between the pilots unions before announcing a combination, but having one in place could help speed up the integration of the companies down the line.

Sears settles lawsuit over ovens

ST. LOUIS - Sears Holdings Corp. will install safety brackets on its stoves in millions of households or offer gift cards in settling an Illinois class-action lawsuit over the appliances' supposed propensity to topple.

Under an agreement signed off on last month by a Madison County judge, Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears will offer to fix all brands of its freestanding or slide-in kitchen ranges in as many as 3.9 million homes by bolting them to a wall or floor.

The deal covers Sears ranges sold from mid-2000 through last Sept. 18, when a judge granted the settlement temporary approval. The deal resolving the lawsuit dating to July 2004 also requires Sears to install safety brackets in newly purchased ranges for the next three years.