NEWS WATCH: BUSH NAMES LEAVITT TO HEAD HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES...KROGER INCREASES PAY FOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS...UNIONS COLLABORATE ON ANTI-WAL-MART CAMPAIGN

BUSH NAMES LEAVITT TO HEAD HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICEScurrent head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as the new head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week. If the Senate confirms him, Leavitt will succeed Tommy Thompson. Prior to joining the administration in 2003, Leavitt was governor of Utah for 11 years. Commenting on the nomination, Craig Fuller, president, National

BUSH NAMES LEAVITT TO HEAD HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as the new head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week. If the Senate confirms him, Leavitt will succeed Tommy Thompson. Prior to joining the administration in 2003, Leavitt was governor of Utah for 11 years. Commenting on the nomination, Craig Fuller, president, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Alexandria, Va., said, "NACDS looks forward to working with Leavitt on community pharmacy and health care issues, such as the prescription drug benefit in the Medicare Modernization Act, Medicaid reform, patient safety, electronic prescribing and related technology, as well as implementation of the president's overall health care agenda." Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers of America both declined to comment on Leavitt's nomination.

KROGER INCREASES PAY FOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

CINCINNATI -- Kroger here will raise base pay for its non-employee board of directors from $45,000 to $75,000 and reward board members with stock, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The pay increases will bring Kroger's board more in line with similar-sized companies and help retain its members, said Kroger, which made changes to its policy upon the recommendations of an outside compensation consultant. In addition to a cash retainer of $75,000, the chair of each board committee will receive $12,000. Each member of the audit committee will receive a $10,000 retainer. Non-employee directors will receive 2,500 shares of restricted stock and 5,000 unrestricted stock options, Kroger added. The company did not offer its board stock in 2003 or 2004. The changes take effect in January.

UNIONS COLLABORATE ON ANTI-WAL-MART CAMPAIGN

WASHINGTON -- The United Food and Commercial Workers union here is partnering with several other unions, including the AFL-CIO and Teamsters, to launch a large-scale, multimedia campaign claiming that Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., is forcing competing companies to lower their pay and benefit rates. Jill Cashen, a UFCW spokeswoman, last week confirmed reports that the unions planned to spend about $25 million per year on the effort. "We have an ongoing Wal-Mart program," she said. "The difference is that we're coordinating more with the [other trade unions]." She said she did not have detailed information about the campaign, noting it was still in the organizational stages.

PATHMARK TO BROADCAST PRN TV NETWORK IN 142 STORES

CARTERET, N.J. -- After testing Premier Retail Networks' in-store television network at checkout lanes in select stores, Pathmark here has decided to expand use of the network to all of its 142 stores, San Francisco-based PRN announced last week. The programming and advertising to be broadcast in Pathmark stores will include tips and information relating to home, family, self and recreation. Content providers will include the Food Network, Discovery Health, Oxygen Network and In Style magazine. News headlines and weather information, updated automatically throughout the day using wireless digital network technology, will be specific to each store's ZIP code.

ALBERTSONS EXPECTS $1 MILLION FOR FOOD BANKS

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons here said last week it expects to raise more than $1 million in cash and product donations during the holiday season for contribution to more than 75 food banks nationwide. The figure includes a $100,000 donation to America's Second Harvest, a network of more than 200 food banks. According to Second Harvest, Albertsons' cash donation alone will provide as many as 1.5 million meals. In addition to the corporate donation, Albertsons' various store banners have initiated month-long, local food drives in 32 states, the company added.