Following months of debate, the Santa Monica City Council passed a tough coastal living wage that requires employers in the city's tourism zone to pay their workers at least $10.50 an hour.

The ordinance, which was approved 5-1, requires coastal businesses that gross more than $5 million to pay their workers the minimum rate. Employers who did not provide health care will be required to pay workers an additional $1.75 per hour in the first year of the ordinance and $2.50 the second year.

The measure goes into effect July 1, 2002.

For years, cities and counties have successfully instituted minimum wages, or so-called "living wages," that are higher than state and federal minimum wage requirements. Until last week, however, those "living wage" laws only applied to contractors doing business with those municipal entities. Santa Monica's new ordinance is believed to be the first in the nation that applies higher minimums for businesses that have no direct relationship to the municipal entity.

Community activists and labor leaders have long advocated an ordinance that would pay hotel maids and other service employees at least $10 an hour, an action that was bitterly opposed by hotel owners and other businesses.

Last year, Santa Monica voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative backed by hotels that would have blocked a minimum wage law.

Sale Brings Back Pink Dot

In a bid to boost its presence in Los Angeles County, Web-based delivery service WhyRunOut.com of Aliso Viejo has purchased a majority stake in online rival PDQuick.com.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but WhyRunOut officials said they will change the name of Camarillo-based PDQuick back to Pink Dot.

After the deal was announced, PDQuick employees were locked out of their offices and told they could reapply with the new company. The new Pink Dot entity will hire about 350 PDQuick drivers and workers but probably won't retain any more of the company's staff, officials said.

Both companies offer same-day grocery delivery, but Pink Dot delivers from warehouses while WhyRunOut uses local supermarkets, dry cleaners and other merchants.

PDQuick had shuttered several of its unprofitable locations in recent months. Earlier this spring, it tried to merge with rival Kozmo.com in a bid for survival, but that deal fell through when key funding for PDQuick failed to materialize.

Universal Moves Theme Park Group

Vivendi-Universal announced it would move a key unit of its Universal Studios theme park division from Los Angeles to Orlando, Fla.

Universal Creative, which designs rides, attractions and hotels worldwide, will move on July 1 to align the creative team more closely with the division's marketers in Orlando, Universal officials said.

The move of Universal Creative will affect several dozen engineers, architects, artists and writers who work at Universal City. Their work encompasses everything from designing Islands of Adventure in Orlando to the newest Universal theme park in Osaka, Japan.

Most of the affected workers, who were notified in March, are being given the choice of moving to Orlando or accepting early retirement packages. Fewer than a dozen people are expected to lose their job.

Unocal Rejects Myanmar Protest

Shareholders of Unocal Corp. rejected two resolutions that would have pressured the oil exploration company to abandon its natural gas venture in Myanmar, whose government has faced international criticism for human rights abuses.

At Unocal's annual shareholder meeting last week, a resolution that would have required the company to adopt a code of conduct discouraging business involvement in countries that used forced labor received about 22 percent of the vote. The second resolution, which would have tied executive compensation to the company's ethical and social performance, did even worse and received just 15.4 percent of the vote.

The board of El Segundo-based Unocal had said the resolutions, were unnecessary because similar policies already were in place. But the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which holds 1.5 million Unocal shares voted in favor of both ordinances.

A few dozen protesters demonstrated outside the meeting, charging that the Myanmar military used forced labor in constructing a pipeline that connects the gas field to Thailand.

'Exorcist' Creators Sue Warner Bros

Charging that Warner Bros. has shortchanged them by understating revenue from their 1973 horror classic, the creators of "The Exorcist" have sued the studio and distribution company.

William Friedkin, the film's director, and producer William Peter Blatty, who wrote the best-selling novel and screenplay, said Warner has been understating revenue from the original film since 1998.

Warner officials said the lawsuit is without merit.

However, Friedkin and Blatty contend that the studio charged its sister cable networks cut-rate fees to keep more of the profits within AOL Time Warner Inc.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also names Turner Network Television and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. as defendants, alleging that Warner charged TNT a $110,000 licensing fee for "The Exorcist," the same fee it charged for less-successful films.

Steel Firm to Purchase Competitor

Los Angeles-based metals distributor Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. announced it will buy rival Pitt-Des Moines Inc.'s steel distribution business.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Pitt-Des Moines has seven distribution centers in California, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Iowa that had combined sales last year of $216 million.

Reliance Steel, which had sales of $1.73 billion last year, said the acquisition will increase its network to 87 distributors in 25 states.

Lien Levied Against Edison

The city of Long Beach was granted a $9 million lien against assets of Southern California Edison Co. for unpaid electricity bills and has frozen funds in an Edison bank account to cover the lien.

Edison will appeal the lien, officials of the beleaguered utility said.

Long Beach sued Edison in February because the utility had not paid for electricity produced by a city-run electricity generator on Terminal Island that is fueled by trash.

In January, Edison's financial problems became so severe that it stopped paying for electricity, including power produced under contract by such alternative generators. Edison resumed payments in March but still owes generators millions of dollars in back payments.

Long Beach is owed $14 million for November through March, and those funds are needed to pay bonds that support the power plant, Long Beach officials said.

Trade Volumes Mixed

Imports through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach remained flat from a year ago, with exports falling at Long Beach and rising at Los Angeles.

Led by clothing, toys and shoes, shipments arriving at the Port of Long Beach increased 0.9 percent last month to 202,600 containers. Imports to the Port of Los Angeles fell 0.3 percent to 210,700 containers.

Meanwhile, April marked the sixth consecutive month that exports from Long Beach declined. Outbound shipments fell 16 percent to 76,600 containers.

In April, the volume of empty containers sent back to Asia and other countries from the Port of Los Angeles rose 7.3 percent to 118,600 containers. Shippers moved 87,300 empties through Long Beach last month, up 17 percent.

CBS Wins 'Survivor' Round

CBS has won an early round in its $5 million defamation action against a former "Survivor" series contestant, who claims the executive producer of the popular television program rigged the voting.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that CBS presented sufficient evidence to show that Stacey Stillman might have acted with malice against the producers of the hit television show.

The hearing was the first in a clash between CBS and Stillman, who was voted off the South China Sea island during the first "Survivor" series last year.

Stillman sued the Viacom Inc.-owned network in February, alleging that "Survivor" executive producer, Mark Burnett, manipulated the outcome of the series by persuading two other contestants to vote against her on the ninth day of the contest.

CBS countered with its own lawsuit, charging that Stillman, a 28-year-old corporate lawyer, violated a confidentiality agreement that she signed before joining the show. CBS lawyers also presented signed declarations from six other contestants who said that Stillman was voted off as a result of her own behavior.

Stillman intends to appeal the ruling, her lawyer said.

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