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The Journal Gazette

September 21, 2016 1:00 AM

Canadian union, GM reach deal

News services

DETROIT – General Motors and the Canadian auto workers union Unifor have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a strike that was threatened for midnight Monday.

Union President Jerry Dias said the deal will bring new products to the Oshawa assembly plant near Toronto and an engine plant in St. Catherines, Ontario. Details were few at an early-morning news conference in Toronto, but Dias said workers will get pay raises and lump-sum payments, and about 700 temporary employees at the plants will go full time if the deal is ratified by members.

With the agreement, Unifor won on its most important issue, securing a future for the two Ontario factories. The deal brings an end to fears that GM would close the Oshawa plant. The three cars it makes – the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala and Buick Regal – are scheduled to go out of production in 2019. The factory also makes the Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV, but its production there is scheduled to end in July of next year.

“Our fear of a closure in 2019 is now over,” Dias said. “The facility clearly has a bright future.”

Home construction down in August

Homebuilders pulled back on construction in the South, causing the pace of August housing starts nationwide to fall to their lowest level in three months.

Despite the monthly decline, construction activity has accelerated for much this year. Builders are increasingly optimistic about sales growth, a reflection of how steady job gains are leading more Americans to purchase new houses and sign leases for new apartments.

In August, groundbreakings dropped 5.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million from 1.21 million in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The pace of construction was the lowest since May. Starts plummeted 14.8 percent in the South, likely reflecting the monthly volatility of the government report.

Monsanto, Bayer say merger aids farmers

Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before senators Tuesday, insisting the deal would lead to greater investments in technology that could help American farmers.

Monsanto, the American seed and weed-killer, and Bayer, the German medicine and farm-chemical maker, responded to concerns from Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Grassley warned that consolidation and competition in the U.S. seed and agrochemical industry could hurt farmers.

After months of negotiations, St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. last week accepted an offer from Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer AG that will pay $57 billion to Monsanto shareholders and assume $9 billion in Monsanto debt.

Higher prices help FedEx earn more

FedEx said Tuesday it earned $715 million in the latest quarter, up 3 percent from the year before.

The results were helped by higher base prices on express and ground services and higher volume in the ground-shipping business.

FedEx Corp. said that based on an outlook for modest economic growth, it expects to earn between $10.85 and $11.35 per share for the year that ends next May including TNT results and between $11.85 and $12.35 per share without them.