NEWS WATCH: CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL SPLITS ON NEW WAL-MART STORES...FLEMING GETS OK TO SEEK REORGANIZATION PLAN APPROVAL...WILD OATS TO RAISE $100 MILLION IN DEBT OFFERING

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL SPLITS ON NEW WAL-MART STORESvoted 32-15 in favor of zoning changes that would allow Wal-Mart Stores to open its first outlet here, published reports said. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant sought to construct a 150,000-square-foot superstore in a West Side neighborhood, but encountered vocal opposition from labor groups and some community leaders. The City Council voted

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL SPLITS ON NEW WAL-MART STORES

voted 32-15 in favor of zoning changes that would allow Wal-Mart Stores to open its first outlet here, published reports said. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant sought to construct a 150,000-square-foot superstore in a West Side neighborhood, but encountered vocal opposition from labor groups and some community leaders. The City Council voted against zoning changes that would allow Wal-Mart to build a second superstore in a South Side neighborhood. Separately, a union-backed study released last week urged communities to limit public subsidies for big-box retailers. The report, prepared by Good Jobs First, Washington, and supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, asserted that Wal-Mart has taken at least $1 billion in public subsidies since 1980. "We argue that public assistance to retailers be limited to projects designed for low-income areas that suffer from a demonstrable shortage of stores for necessities, such as food and clothing," the report said.

FLEMING GETS OK TO SEEK REORGANIZATION PLAN APPROVAL

WILMINGTON, Del. -- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court here last week approved the disclosure statement of Fleming Cos., Dallas, permitting the company to seek approval of its plan of reorganization, according to documents obtained by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Fairless Hills, Pa. Fleming said it expects to mail ballots by June 4. The court scheduled a confirmation hearing on July 26 to confirm the plan in anticipation of approval by creditors. The plan calls for creditors to have an equity stake in a new company formed around Fleming's convenience-store distribution operations, tentatively called Core-Mark Newco.

WILD OATS TO RAISE $100 MILLION IN DEBT OFFERING

BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets here said it would seek to raise about $100 million through a private offering of 30-year convertible senior debentures to institutional buyers. The company also said it expected to grant the initial buyers options to purchase up to an additional $15 million of the notes. Wild Oats said it would use the proceeds to accelerate its growth plans and for general corporate purposes. The notes will be convertible into common shares.

CALIF. BILL WOULD BENEFIT LOCKED-OUT WORKERS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Assembly is considering a bill, approved last week by the state Senate, that would allow workers locked out by a labor dispute to receive unemployment benefits. Existing law says individuals unemployed because of a trade dispute have left their jobs voluntarily and are therefore ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits -- a law that prevented locked-out clerks at Ralphs and Albertsons in Southern California from collecting benefits during the 20-week strike-lockout that ended in March. Under Senate Bill 1903, introduced by Sen Dean Florez, a Democrat from Shafter, Calif., a "locked-out worker" is redefined as "an employee who is prohibited by his or her employer from performing his or her work as a result of a trade dispute with the employer regarding wages, hours or other terms or conditions of employment."

UFCW, SEATTLE CHAINS SCHEDULE JUNE MEETINGS

SEATTLE -- Representatives from five locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union agreed to meet several times in June with the four chains in this area that are negotiating a new labor contract, a spokeswoman for the chains told SN. The contract, which covers some 16,000 workers at 259 Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger-owned QFC and Fred Meyer stores, expired May 2. The two sides agreed to continue the week-by-week contract extension and have scheduled negotiating sessions for June 3, 4, 14, 24 and 25.