The United Auto Workers began a nationwide strike just before midnight on Sunday at General Motors after both sides failed to agree on a new contract over issues including wages, health care and profit-sharing.
Production across the U.S. is expected to be halted, affecting nearly 50,000 worker at 33 manufacturing plants in nine states as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses until a new contract is hammered out.
“At midnight tonight, the picket lines will go up,” the UAW’s Brian Rothenberg said at a news conference in Detroit on Sunday. “But basically, when the morning shift would have reported for work, they won’t be there. The picket lines are being set up.”
Night-shift workers at a plant in Bedford, Ind., that makes transmission castings and other parts, shut off their machines and went home, Dave Green, a worker, told The Associated Press.
Green, who transferred from the now-closed GM car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, said: “This is not about us. It’s about the future.”
The strike is the first against GM since a two-day walkout in 2007.
On Saturday, union officials allowed their contract to lapse around midnight. GM leadership has sought to contain the company’s health care costs, but union leadership said workers refuse to agree to a contract that makes health care more expensive for them.
“While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard working Americans ahead of their record profits,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. “We don’t take this lightly.”
Officials at GM said in a statement to NPR that the company “presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways,” adding that: “It is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike.”
Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research, an independent research organization, said both sides are looking at the prospect of a weakening economy.
“The company and the union look at the very same set of economic fundamentals and see the same writing on the wall and have different motivations,” Dziczek said.
“The company looks at that and says, ‘Well, if we hit a downturn, we want to be able to have contingent compensation, so we don’t get locked into paying higher costs if the market softens.’ That same set of economic facts drives the union to want more guaranteed and certain compensation: base wage increases,” she said.
Dziczek said the strike would have to last more than a month to affect inventory at car dealerships. But she said the impact will ripple fast across North America.
“There’s great reliance on cross-border trade in engines and transmissions and other parts to support production in Canada and Mexico, so it wouldn’t take long before Canada and Mexico were also shut down,” she said.
Some of the major sticking points include the cost of health insurance and pay raises demanded by workers. GM made $8.1 billion in profits last year.
GM has announced closing four factories and the union has been fighting those decisions. GM says the average hourly employee makes around $90,000 a year. The UAW’s Ted Krumm said the union will not make concessions.
“This strike is about us. It’s about standing up for fair wages, for affordable, quality health care, for our share of profits and for our job security,” Krumm said at a Sunday press conference.
The move to strike comes as legal troubles follow the union. A federal corruption scandal has led to guilty pleas by five people in the UAW. The FBI has raided the home of Gary Jones, the union’s current president. Some workers have called on Jones to step down amid the probe, which has accused some union officials of hiding bribes and embezzling money from the union.
Venture Insurance Programs launches online platform for small business insurance
National insurance program administrator Venture Insurance Programs is introducing a new platform that will allow agents and brokers to better serve their small business clients.
The new Venture Small Business platform allows insurance professionals to quote and bind policies for over 150 classes of business within the same day. The platform will also provide several post-bind services such as direct billing, issuing ACORD certificates of insurance, policy document requests, and claims reporting/servicing.
Venture Small Business can quote and bind general and professional liability coverage for small businesses within the following industries:
Architecture and engineering
Marketing and public relations
Creative and design
Health, beauty & fitness
“Venture is pleased to offer this small business platform alongside our industry-specific products and services for agents and brokers,” said Venture Insurance Programs founder and president Phillip J. Harvey.
Harvey added that the dedicated online portal will assist producers in receiving quotes for their small business clients quickly and accurately, as well as in binding coverage.
E-cigarette-maker Juul agrees to avoid targeting minors amid wave of vaping illnesses BY ANDREW SHEELER
E-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs must restrict its marketing and promotion to avoid targeting minors under a new legal settlement agreement with the Oakland-based watchdog Center for Environmental Health.
The settlement in Alameda County Superior Court exposes Juul, which is co-owned by Atria, the parent company of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, to legal liability if it violates the agreement.
The agreement includes prohibitions on advertising in media with an audience 15 percent or more younger than age 21, advertising on social media outside of Juul’s age-restricted YouTube account and using models younger than 28.
The settlement comes as dozens of people across the nation have sicked from a mysterious vaping-related illness, one that has led to at least 26 deaths, according to the Associated Press.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in September calling on his tax collectors to step up enforcement of the e-cigarette industry.
The Juul settlement, announced on Thursday, contains other prohibitions, including no advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, no sponsoring sporting events or concerts that allow people under 21 and no paying or permitting company employees or contractors to appear at school or youth-oriented events.
The company also must replace the terms “adults only” and “not for use by minors” with “the sale of tobacco products to minors is prohibited by law” in order to avoid enticing minors.
The agreement limits bulk sales of Juul products both online and at brick and mortar stores and requires Juul to continue it’s “secret shopper” program, which seeks to catch retailers selling Juul products without asking for ID.
“This settlement will reduce the number of children getting addicted to a neurotoxin like nicotine, and help protect them from other toxic chemicals present in Juul products,” said CEH’s CEO Michael Green in prepared remarks. “CEH intends to monitor the company closely and if Juul violates our agreement by one inch, we will sue them again.”
A spokesman for Juul said that the settlement affirms practices that the company already had in place.
“We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products, since our products exist solely to help adult smokers find an alternative to combustible cigarettes,” the spokesman said.
BY ANDREW SHEELER
Drug Giants Close In on a $50 Billion Settlement of Opioid Cases
CLEVELAND — As a critical trial deadline bears down, lawyers for states and the three largest drug distributors in the country, along with two manufacturers, have agreed on a framework for a deal to resolve thousands of opioid cases with a settlement worth nearly $50 billion in cash and addiction treatments.
Three people familiar with the negotiations said that cities and counties across the country are tentatively supporting the broad parameters of the deal but are negotiating over its total value as well as attorneys’ fees. They warned that details could change and the deal could still fall apart before Monday, when opening statements are to begin in the first federal trial to determine responsibility for the opioid epidemic.
The agreement would release AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, which together distribute about 90 percent of the country’s medicines, along with Johnson & Johnson and Teva, the Israeli-based manufacturer of generic medicines, from a rapidly growing list of more than 2,300 lawsuits that they face in federal and state courts.
All of the companies either didn’t return requests for comment or declined to do so.
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are leading the talks for the states, along with lawyers for thousands of cities and counties whose cases are in federal court.
Since the late 1990s, more than 400,000 people in the United States have died from overdoses of prescription painkillers and illegal opioids, including heroin and fentanyl. The epidemic is considered one of the greatest public health crises in the country’s history.
The three drug distributors and Teva are defendants in the first trial, brought by two Ohio counties. With thousands of somewhat similar governmental lawsuits on the national runway, the Ohio suit is considered an important showcase that will test the strength of both sides’ witnesses and legal arguments before 12 jurors.
Even as discussions continue, so does the selection of a jury, in anticipation of the start of the trial should talks collapse.
Johnson & Johnson recently settled with the two Ohio counties for about $20.4 million, but the company is named in many of other suits, as well.
Many drug manufacturers and pharmacy chains also have been named as defendants in federal and state opioids cases, but they are apparently not involved in these negotiations.
The maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma — which is currently in bankruptcy court — has a tentative and much-disputed agreement with lawyers for thousands of municipal suits in federal court and nearly two dozen states that, if finalized, would remove the company from most opioids cases as well.
According to people familiar with the talks, the combined value of the current deal breaks down as follows: $20 to $25 billion in cash to be divided among the states and localities to help pay for health care, law enforcement and other costs associated with the epidemic; and another $25 to $30 billion in addiction-treatment drugs, supplies and delivery services.
People familiar with the negotiations said many details are still being debated, including the timetable for when the money would be paid.
Whether the amount will be considered sufficient by all the plaintiffs remains to be seen. A new report by the Society of Actuaries projects the costs related to the opioid epidemic at $188 billion in 2019 alone, including health care, child and family assistance programs, criminal justice activities and lost wages.
People familiar with the talks said that a sticking point in negotiation is how much money will go toward attorneys’ fees for the private lawyers who represent governments in the overwhelming majority of cases and work on contingency.
Those lawyers filed the first opioid lawsuits in 2014 and have since conducted hundreds of depositions and compiled many millions of documents.
Source : nonperele
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