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Consumer Confidential: Airline strike, fast-food brew, gambling taxes

February 17, 2010 | 10:11 am

Here's your wantonly Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Do you have a trip pending on American Airlines? If so, keep this in mind: Airline workers have asked federal mediators to let them walk away from contract talks if no deal is reached by March 8. If so, this would allow union members at the second-largest carrier to go on strike 30 days later, or in early April. The Obama administration or Congress could still block a walkout, but that's politically dicey. I'm thinking this is a heavy-duty negotiating tactic to push the labor talks forward.

-- Burger King wants better brew (coffee, that is). The fast-food chain says it will add Starbucks' Seattle's Best Coffee to all its roughly 7,000 restaurants by summer in a bid to boost breakfast sales. Rival Mickey D's has seen healthy growth among the breakfast set, and BK wants a piece of that action. I'm just wondering: How did it take them this long to realize that people appreciate a decent cup of joe?

-- With March Madness around the corner, here's something to keep in mind: Our friends at the Internal Revenue Service expect you to report any gambling winnings. This is taxable income, and as such the IRS wants a bite. Actually, you can probably get away with a big score in the office pool, but remember that casinos and racing tracks and lotteries are required to report big payouts, which could leave you open to an audit if you're not on the up and up. Just something to consider.

-- David Lazarus

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