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Deere, UAW reach tentative six-year contract agreement

Moline, IL (AP) — Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers said Thursday they’ve reached a tentative six-year labor contract covering nearly 10,000 workers and 17,000 retirees.

The company and union said they will not disclose details of the agreement, which heads to members of 15 UAW locals for ratification.

Representatives of the company and the union issued statements praising the agreement and the negotiators who hammered it out.

According to a statement attributed to David Everitt, president of Deere’s worldwide agriculture and turf division, the two sides worked hard to negotiate an agreement “that meets the needs of employees while recognizing the nature of Deere’s competitive challenges around the world.”

According to a statement attributed to UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, the tentative agreement “serves our members’ best interests and the interests of the communities where we work and live.”

Deere and the union began negotiations in late August. The previous contract, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2003, and expired at midnight Wednesday, covered about 17 percent of the 56,653 people employed by Deere at the end of 2008.

The UAW-Deere agreement represents workers at sites in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and parts depots in Atlanta and Denver.

Minnesota regulators approve Wisconsin utility’s wind farm

St. Paul, MN (AP) — Minnesota regulators have approved a wind farm in southern Minnesota that would be paid for by Wisconsin utility ratepayers.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved Wisconsin Power & Light Co.’s project to be built just north of Albert Lea in Freeborn County. The utility received a permit for a 200-megawatt wind farm, which is the first phase of what officials hope will become a 400-megawatt project.

Some residents had asked the commission to delay a decision until proceedings on a Minnesota Department of Health report were complete. The report explored how wind turbines could affect the health of people living near them.

Commissioners said the permit can be altered later if officials determine that larger setbacks are needed to keep people safe.

Wisconsin DNR to hold hearings on closing public lands

Madison (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources plans a series of public hearings on when and how the agency could close public lands.

Generally, land acquired through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program must be open to hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and cross-country skiing. The state Legislature has created exceptions, however, including protecting public safety, protecting plants and animals or accommodating use patterns.

The DNR is considering a rule that creates standards and criteria for deciding when the exceptions apply.

Hearings on the rule are scheduled throughout October in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Rhinelander and West Bend.

Texas wind farm with 627 turbines begins production

Roscoe, TX (AP) — A massive West Texas wind farm billed as the largest in the world is up and running.

German company E.ON Climate and Renewables on Thursday announced the completion of the 100,000-acre wind farm near Roscoe that spans four counties.

The company says the 627-turbine wind farm is now producing energy. It has the capacity to generate 781.5 megawatts, enough electricity to power more than 230,000 homes.

Purchasing execs: Manufacturing sector grew in September

New York (AP) — The manufacturing sector grew for a second straight month in September, but at a slower pace than in August, according to a private trade group.

According to the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, its index measuring the industrial sector was 52.6 last month. The survey came in at 52.9 in August — the first time it was above 50, indicating expansion, since January 2008.

While showing growth, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a stronger reading of 54.

The general tone of the members surveyed is still “somewhat negative,” said Norbert Ore, chair of the group’s manufacturing report. Still, he expects continued moderate growth for the rest of this year.

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