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Middle Ages accused of illegal destruction of trade unions



The Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board applied complaint On Tuesday, Medieval Times management is accused of an illegal scheme to undermine union support at a castle in Buena Park, California.

Last year, workers at the castle launched a union campaign to improve pay and working conditions by collecting signed union tickets from showrunners, knight riders and grooms. A petition was later circulated in which some of the workers who had signed union cards requested that they be withdrawn.

The complaint alleges that the theater chain’s training and development director played a direct role in these efforts to torpedo the union by offering guidance on the petition and encouraging workers to withdraw their support.

Workers can ask to have their union cards revoked if they change their mind, but it is illegal for management to be involved in such actions because it could lead to coercion.

“We’ve had to deal with months of near-constant union busting from the Medieval Times.”

– Erin Zapcic, Queen of Buena Park Castle

The union, the Entertainers Guild of America (AGVA), filed a lawsuit with the NLRB accusing the Medieval Times of violating the law through the petition. The complaint, released on Tuesday, means that NLRB officials have looked into the union’s claims and found them to be valid. If Medieval Times refuses to reach an agreement on a case, it will go to court.

The AGVA won the election anyway, 27 to 18, making the supposedly illegal petition campaign moot. But regional director Nathan M. Seidman said the Medieval Times should admit it had broken the law and post a workers’ rights notice in Buena Park Castle, as well as read it aloud to the workers.

Erin Zapcic, a cast queen and union member, said in a statement that the workers were “delighted” that the board had filed a complaint against the company.

“During our organizing campaign, we had to face months of near-constant union busting from the Medieval Times,” Zapcic said. “The most egregious thing is that the company orchestrated an attempt to completely cancel our elections through deceit, manipulation and illegal means.”

Medieval knight Brandon Sanchez at the picket line in Buena Park, California.

Orange County Registry via Getty Images

Zapcic called Tuesday’s filing “the first of many complaints against the company,” noting that the union has blamed Medieval Times for other unfair labor practices that are under investigation.

Medieval Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Castle was the company’s second to form a union, after an earlier campaign at a castle in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Workers at both factories are now trying to secure their first contract. Trade unions include castle artists and grooms, but not food and retail workers.

The cast of the show Buena Park and the Knights have gone on an unfair strike since February, accusing the Medieval Times of trying to silence them on social media. The company brought in workers to replace them – strikebreakers, in the language of the union – from other castles. According to the union, some of the new knights from the company’s castle in Toronto were turned down by US immigration because they did not have work visas.

Last year, the company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against AGVA over the name the workers chose for their union, Medieval Times Performers United, and the Medieval-style image of their logo. The company said the name and images of the union created confusion among customers and compromised its brand.

The company later filed intellectual property complaints on Facebook and TikTok and secured the shutdown of the California Castle union’s TikTok account. In response, the union filed new allegations of unfair labor practices against the company, saying the trademark lawsuit and social media complaints are illegal attempts to silence them.

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On changes in the UK, political agreements and missing Scots



I was very impressed with Heidi Allen’s first speech when she left the Conservative Party to join the Independent group, now known as the Change Party in the UK. How could the Conservative high command ignore such an outstanding talent? But I’m afraid I wasn’t very impressed with her performance at the beer and Brexit debate on May 14 hosted by King’s College London. Ms. Allen is now the acting leader of Change UK. But even as her position grew, she seemed to shrink as a politician. Gently interrogated by Anand Menon, the reigning Brexit guru at King’s, she gave a series of mild and vague answers that suggested she was incapable of either strict thinking or vigorous organization.

Ms Allen spouted a torrent of good government platitudes about how Britain should make much better use of the experience. Politics should be run more like a business. Parties must take stock of the skills and talents of each new set of deputies. Parliament operates like an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club, and so on and so forth. This makes some sense, especially with regard to the list of skills. But isn’t the call for politics to be run more like a business a bit old hat for a party that positions itself as an agent of change? Donald Trump ran for a promise to use his businessman skills to shake up Washington D.C. in 2016, and Silvio Berlusconi said the same about Rome in the 1990s. And isn’t the Change UK boss a pretty bad place to call for a more businesslike approach to politics? The party rushed from one disaster to another: failed to create a brand; fiddling with his name; public disagreement with the policy; the production of ridiculously sloppy propaganda literature; and, in every possible sense, allowing itself to be inefficient, disorganized and ill-conceived by what is considered the party of out-of-world fanatics, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

The UK looks set to receive the Palme d’Or for the most risky projects in recent political history. For a moment, it looked like Tom Watson and the Social Democratic wing of the Labor Party might go on a mass strike and join the Tigers (as Change UK members were called when their nascent party was the Independent Group). But Mr. Watson chose to stay and fight, and the Tigers had to rely on the strength of their personalities rather than numbers. The trouble is that this is far from enough: the founders of the Social Democratic Party back in 1983 were big weather-making beasts. Change UK is a collection of little animals that are likely to be blown away by a storm.


In EDINBURGH – this is a wonderful exploration of stone as poetry – to discuss the future of capitalism with Stuart Wood, a Labor colleague courtesy of Reform Scotland, a think tank. To be honest, we struggled to find important things to disagree about. Across the political spectrum, there is broad agreement on the biggest challenges facing the UK: the over-centralization of economic and political power in London; a long tail of low-skilled workers stuck in low-paying jobs; the cult of the short term; financial design; lack of respect for the manufacturing sector. And yet the British political class is instead focusing on policies that are as divisive as possible: on the right, exit from the European Union, and on the left, massive state intervention in the “commanding heights” of the economy, such as the renationalization of housing and communal services and taking 10% of the country’s largest public companies. As long as we quarrel over what is controversial, we cannot decide what we agree on.


SCOTLAND and England are perhaps politically further apart than at any time in the history of the Union, and not just because the Scots voted to stay in the EU and the British voted to leave. The Labor Party once specialized in pushing Scottish politicians to the heights of power in Westminster – Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Smith, Ramsay Macdonald, Keir Hardy. The Liberal Party and its various offshoots had deep roots in Scotland as well as in the English provinces (think of Joe Grimond and Charles Kennedy). The aristocratic wing of the Tory party also boasted deep Scottish connections: Alec Douglas-Home had an estate there, and even David Cameron boasted a Scottish name and Scottish shooting buddies.

British politics are now as English as they ever were. The only Scot at the forefront of politics is Michael Gove, the adopted son of a Scottish fishmonger and a man who could switch from Oxbridge English to Aberdeen Scots if necessary. People in high government positions (prime minister, chancellor, minister of foreign affairs) seem to be competing to be the most southerly. The Scottish Labor Party has all but died of complacency and mediocrity, and the National Party has been taken over by a cabal of London MPs: Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry sit next door in Islington, while Diane Abbott and John McDonnell represent London. places. The Scottish dominion that once ruled over its southern neighbor has been blown to the wind: Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are back in Scotland, and Tony Blair is flying in a private jet somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

Political life in Scotland is dominated by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which has no real importance in the south (although it has 35 MPs and their leader, Ian Blackford, courageously delivers the same Prime Minister’s Questions speech every week on the state of Britain ). take Scotland out of the EU against her will). The hottest issue in the north right now is the upcoming trial of Alex Salmond on charges including sexual harassment and attempted rape. (He says he is innocent of any crimes.) This separates the SNP and Scottish politics in general into fans of Nicola Sturgeon, who began her political life as a protégé of Mr Salmond but has since turned her back on him, and Salmond’s supporters who feel he is being unfairly accused. The row could loosen the SNP’s (increasingly deadly) grip on Scottish politics and set the stage for significant gains for either the Tories or the Labor Party, with major implications for the next general election in the south.

Another big issue is Ruth Davidson’s return to the stage after a few months on maternity leave. If things had gone well with Brexit, Ms Davidson would have reappeared at a time when the Tory party would have put Brexit behind us and addressed the question of where Britain needs to go now that it is leaving the EU (Ms Davidson is the remaining who resigned herself to fulfilling the will of the people). But the Brexit problem is even more serious today than when she went on vacation, and the Tory brand is much more toxic. Ms. Davidson has resisted enormous pressure from within her party to weaken her ties to the Conservative Party south of the border. As Brexit swings from disaster to disaster, and as the Tory party becomes more associated with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, she may regret her decision.

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Bank stocks soar higher than job data support markets



Shares in a group of regional banks, which came under heavy pressure this week to raise fears that a banking crisis is spreading, rose on Friday, at least partly easing those fears.

The recovery came as the market was also supported by hiring data, which was seen as strong enough to allay recession fears without prompting the Fed to further tighten the screws on the economy.

PacWest soared more than 80 percent after falling more than 50 percent on Thursday. The share price of Western Alliance rose by almost 50 percent, also partially offsetting the fall the day before.

The relief rally helped lift the overall market, with the S&P 500 up 1.9%, its first day of gains in May.

“We thought the banks had been unfairly penalized over the past week and even earlier,” said Matt Peron, research director at Janus Henderson management company. “The rally makes sense because they were oversold.”

However, profits were not enough to reverse another tough week for the country’s mid-sized banks. The takeover and sale of First Republic to JPMorgan Chase on Monday was unveiled by Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, ending the crisis that began in March with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

However, Mr. Dimon added that “there may be another smaller” bank that could run into problems. Shortly thereafter, a new bout of pressure brought down the shares of smaller lenders such as PacWest and Western Alliance, which were trying to convince investors that their deposit base was stable and that market movements were not related to their financial condition.

Even with Friday’s spike, PacWest shares remained set for the end of the week, losing almost half of their market value. Western Alliance finished the week about a quarter lower than it started the week. The S&P 500 ended the week down 0.8%.

After trading closed on Friday, the Federal Reserve released data showing that US commercial bank deposits declined slightly in the week ended April 26, falling to $17.17 trillion from $17.18 trillion the week before. However, in domestically registered banks, they rose to $15.96 trillion from $15.94 trillion earlier. In any case, the data showed that deposits have stabilized after a much larger decline in March and early April.

Worries about the fate of regional lenders were further eased by fresh data on Friday, which showed a resilient labor market, with April’s hiring rate higher than expected and workers still pushing higher wage growth.

Despite the strong numbers for April, downward revisions to previous months’ data show that the long-term slowdown in the labor market continues, and investors still expect Fed policymakers to halt interest rate hikes at the next meeting in June.

Elsewhere, oil prices rose, often reflecting a brighter outlook for the global economy. They also rose after a sharp decline earlier in the week.

Another tailwind for the market came from Apple, which reported higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings, which helped lift its share price nearly 5% on Friday. Because of the tech giant’s size, its actions have more of an impact on the S&P 500 than any company in the index.

Jerome H. Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said it was possible to slow the economy enough to stop inflation without pushing it into recession. Perhaps Friday’s employment data confirms the view of the so-called “soft landing”.

However, some investors remain on edge even after Friday’s surge. Strong data increased the likelihood of a rate hike in June.

The 2-year Treasury yield, which is sensitive to changes in interest rate expectations, also rose, climbing 0.16 percentage points to 3.9 percent – a big move for an asset that typically changes by hundredths of a percentage point every day and a sign that Investors think that interest rates can stay high longer.

“The market seems vulnerable to a shock,” Mr. Perón said. “We will be careful until we overcome the pause.”

Zhanna Smyalek made a report.

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Revenue rose 51% and losses narrowed to Rs 168 crore.



Leading payments and financial company Paytm on Friday reported consolidated revenue of Rs 2,334 crore for the March quarter. This is a 51% increase from Rs 1,540 crore in the March quarter of fiscal year 22, the company said in a statement. The company’s loss narrowed to Rs 168 crore from Rs 763 crore last year.

Paytm hit its operating margin milestone in the third quarter, well ahead of its September 2024 guidance.

The company achieved operating profitability through increased monetization rates, better cost management and higher operating leverage. In the fourth quarter, its EBITDA before ESOP costs, excluding UPI stimulus, rose to Rs 101 crore from Rs 368 crore in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

The company’s payment services revenue rose 41% to Rs 1,467 crore in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023. Excluding UPI incentives, payments revenue grew 28% year-on-year in previous quarters.

The company further improved its payments profitability with net payments margin up 158% year-on-year to Rs 687 crore and net payments margin at Rs 554 crore, up 107% from the previous quarter after removing the UPI stimulus from prior quarters. In fiscal year 23, the company’s net payments margin increased by an impressive 2.9 times to Rs 1,970 crore, showing the profitability of the payments business despite a higher share of UPI.

Its marginal profit was 55%, driven by continued improvements in payments, profitability, and a growing set of high-yield businesses such as loan disbursement. Profit on deposits increased from 30% in FY22 to 49% in FY23 from proceeds to Rs 3,895 crore, up 160% from the previous year. Excluding UPI incentives from previous quarters, the like-for-like margin increased to 52% from 35% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

User engagement on the platform continued to grow, with Q4 FY 2023 Average Monthly Transactional Users (MTUs) up 27% year-on-year to Rs 9 crores as digital payments rollout for consumers and merchants in India continues. Paytm’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) increased 40% year on year to 3.62 lakh crores in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023. With a focus on creating additional payment monetization, the company’s subscription revenue continues to grow, with 68,000 merchants paying for device subscriptions as of March 2023. nearly doubling its year-over-year growth from 29 lakh as of March 2022.

Paytm’s business of distributing loans in partnership with major lenders continues to expand. In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023, total loans rose to Rs 1.2 crore (an increase of 82% year on year), while the total value of loans was Rs 12,554 crore, representing a 253% growth year on year, and was issued through Paytm for three products: Paytm postpaid, consumer loans and commercial loans. As of March 2023, 95 thousand borrowers took out a loan through the platform. In fiscal year 23, total loans issued rose by 163% year on year to 4 crore loans worth Rs 35,378 crore, up 357% year on year.

With significant investment in sales, personnel and technology platform improvements, Paytm said it expects the growth and profitability momentum of its diverse businesses to continue into the next fiscal year.

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