MIKE ARMSTRONG: Coming up: Another big bank CEO loses his job because of the mortgage mess. The sudden closure of a South Jersey trucking firm has many questioning how little notice it gave workers. We have the details. And Philadelphia International has started a huge project to make things a little, easier for non-US Airways passengers. We’ll tell you what the city-owned airport is planning. Philadelphia Business Today starts now.

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MIKE ARMSTRONG:    The CEO of the biggest bank in the region is out. Ken Thompson has been ousted by Wachovia’s board of directors. He becomes the latest financial boss to lose his job over big losses tied to the mortgage meltdown. The move comes nearly four weeks after the bank revised its first quarter loss to $708 million, much more than the $393 million losses it reported in April. Thompson has had to defend his decision making, as Wachovia has struggled with rising mortgage defaults and write-downs to subprime loans. Wachovia shares have plunged 58% over the last year. Wachovia is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, but it’s the biggest bank in the Philadelphia area, ranked by deposits. Wachovia CEO Joe Neubauer is one of three Wachovia board members who will lead the search for a new CEO.

We told you two weeks ago about the South Jersey trucking company that closed in part because of high diesel prices. Jevic Transportation shut down May 19, putting more than a thousand people out of work. Well that closure may lead to the first test of a state law that requires more companies to provide advance notice of layoffs and closings. A federal law called the WARN Act requires companies with at least a hundred employees to notify workers 60 days before a layoff or plant closure. But that law really has little bite if an employer doesn’t do that. New Jersey passed its own law in December that closes a lot of the loopholes in the WARN Act.  About a hundred Jevic workers have filed suit against the company seeking damages and citing that law.

Philadelphia International Airport is spending $300 million to correct terminals D and E and a large baggage claim areas there. The project is similar to one the airport did about a decade ago to link terminals B and C. When this one is done by October 2009, passengers will see a 14-lane security checkpoint, new shopping and lobbies, as well as an enlarged baggage claim area. What they won’t see, but just as important, is a new automated baggage handling system. While it’s better than it used to be, baggage claim at Philadelphia’s airport has been one of the biggest gripes of passengers over the years.

That’s it for today. At the Inquirer, I’m Mike Armstrong for Philadelphia Business Today.


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