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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

CAT: IL Has 'Rudderless' Business Climate

December 2, 2011 6:11 am | by David Mercer, Deanna Bellandi, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — One of the largest companies in Illinois is calling the state's business climate "rudderless" and "dysfunctional" after lawmakers failed to approve a package of tax perks to help several businesses threatening to leave the financially strapped state. Caterpillar Inc.

Australian Court Bans Galaxy Tab Sales

December 2, 2011 4:14 am | by Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) — Apple Inc. won a small victory on Friday in its global patent battle with rival Samsung, after Australia's highest court temporarily extended a ban on sales of Samsung's Galaxy tablet computers in the country. Samsung Electronics Co. is desperate to begin selling the Galaxy in Australia in time for Christmas sales, but the High Court's decision means the device can't go on the market until at least Dec.

Union Says CEO Compared Workers To Tumor

December 2, 2011 4:12 am

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Union representatives of locked-out employees at American Crystal Sugar Co. are criticizing the company president and CEO for what they call anti-worker sentiments. The union released audio recordings Wednesday of CEO David Berg telling shareholders a story about a friend with cancer and saying, "We can't let a labor contract make us sick forever and ever.

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GM To Buy Back Volts

December 2, 2011 4:10 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — General Motors will buy Chevrolet Volts back from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire, the company's CEO said Thursday. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy.

EU Claims Compliance With WTO's Airbus Ruling

December 2, 2011 4:08 am

GENEVA (AP) — The European Union said Thursday it has complied with a World Trade Organization ruling that called for an end to unfair government aid to aircraft maker Airbus. U.S. trade officials and rival Boeing Inc. responded that they would study closely the EU's submission to ensure all illegal subsidies had been removed.

Unemployment Falls To Lowest Rate Since March 2009

December 2, 2011 4:07 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than 2½ years. More people out of work either found jobs or gave up looking and were no longer counted as unemployed. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.

Honda Announces Global Recall For Air-Bag Problems

December 2, 2011 4:04 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Honda Motor Co. is recalling 304,000 vehicles globally for air-bags that may inflate with too much pressure in a crash, send metal and plastic pieces flying and cause injuries or deaths. Honda said there have been 20 accidents so far related to this problem, including two deaths in the U.

MO Jobs Chief Defends Review Of Sweetener Maker

December 1, 2011 8:58 am | by David A. Lieb, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's economic development chief defended the state's review of a Chinese firm that failed to follow through on a pledge to open an artificial sweetener factory in rural Missouri but insisted Wednesday that it would have been a waste of taxpayer money to more thoroughly screen the company.

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Economy Improving Despite Weak Job Growth

December 1, 2011 8:54 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is picking up. If only job growth would follow. A spate of data Thursday showed U.S. factories grew last month at the fastest pace since June, construction spending increased for a third straight month, and both retail sales and auto sales rose in November.

Machinists Reach Tentative Deal With Boeing

December 1, 2011 8:51 am | by Gene Johnson, Sam Hananel, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — As Boeing executive Jim Albaugh spoke to an aerospace conference in New York, recent strikes by the company's workers in Washington state weren't far from his mind. "We've had strikes three out of the last four times that we've gone to the table with the union," he noted Wednesday morning.

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U.S. Auto Sales Look Strong In November

December 1, 2011 8:47 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers

DETROIT (AP) — People are finally replacing the cars and trucks they held on to during the economic slump, giving a boost to U.S. auto sales in November. Chrysler, Ford and Nissan were among the companies reporting double-digit gains from last November, which is normally a lackluster month because of colder weather and holiday distractions.

Toyota, BMW To Work On Greener Car Battery

December 1, 2011 8:44 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Auto giants Toyota and BMW said Thursday they have agreed to collaborate on research for cleaner, next-generation car batteries, underlining the growing push in the industry for green technology. The agreement brings together Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's No. 1 carmaker and a leader in gas-electric hybrids, and BMW AG of Germany, a European maker that has a strong luxury brand image in both Japan and Europe.

Union Says Crystal Sugar Profits Mean Better Contract

December 1, 2011 8:40 am

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A banner year has produced big profits for American Crystal Sugar Co. and big paydays for its executives. Locked-out union workers at Crystal plants in three states say that's evidence the cooperative can afford to make a better contract offer. The company's net revenue for fiscal 2011 was $1.

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NASA Selects 300 Research and Technology Projects

November 30, 2011 8:53 am

NASA has selected 300 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for possible contract awards through the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These competitive awards-based programs encourage U.S.

Gun Violence Creates Growing Market For Armored Vehicles

November 30, 2011 8:45 am

CAGUA, Venezuela (AP) — Ever since a gunman tried to rob his father, Venezuelan businessman Dumas Rojas has insisted on driving cars armored with windows strong enough to withstand the bullets of a .44 Magnum. Rojas also decided to have the same level 3 armor installed on the Jeep his wife drives with their two small children.

General Dynamics Lands $10M Military Contract

November 30, 2011 8:39 am

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich., Nov. 30, 20111 /PRNewswire/ -- General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has been awarded a $9.9 million contract to upgrade military vehicles for the U.S. Army. The contract was awarded by the Army Contracting Command in Warren, Mich.

Boeing Announces Plan To Produce 737 MAX In WA

November 30, 2011 8:34 am

SEATTLE, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced that it intends to build the new 737 MAX in Renton, Wash., pending approval of an early contract extension with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), the union representing hourly employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas.

Former Enron Plant Manager Looks Back With Mixed Feelings

November 30, 2011 8:26 am

HOUSTON (AP) — Former Enron Corp. employee George Maddox, who lost his retirement savings when the energy giant collapsed, says he has been forced to spend his golden years making ends meet by mowing pastures and living in a run-down East Texas farmhouse. Maddox, who served 30 years as a plant manager with the company, was long retired as Enron began spiraling out of control in the months leading up to its bankruptcy on Dec.

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Republicans Aim To Quash New Labor Rules

November 30, 2011 8:21 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are maneuvering to short-circuit an effort by Democrats on the National Labor Relations Board to approve rules that would quicken the pace of union elections. The GOP member of the labor board is threatening to resign his post, which would deny the board a quorum and quash the entire process.

After Losing Fed Loan, Military Solar Project A Go

November 30, 2011 4:23 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A $1 billion solar energy project that lost a federal loan in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy and related investigations is back on track to nearly double the number of panels on residential rooftops in the U.S. San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity said Wednesday that it had reached a deal with Bank of America Corp.

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