American Airlines Group Reach Agreements with Union

American Airlines Group

American Airlines Group

Three collective bargaining agreements have been reached between the new American Airlines Group and its employees at US Airways. American Airlines Group was formed in December when Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines merged with US Airways. The agreements were reached with mechanics, fleet service and maintenance training specialists, who are members of the International Association of Machinists.

According to American Airlines Group the agreements will stay in effect with the US Air workers until a collective bargaining agreement which includes all 30,000 of the Group’s employees is reached.

“We are pleased we have reached these agreements,” Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said in a statement. “These agreements will allow us to focus on the next steps for integrating our airlines, and we can now start the process of bringing these employee groups together with their co-workers from American through joint collective bargaining agreements.”

Aronia Berry Brings Health Benefits and Profits

Chokeberries

Chokeberries

There is a new fruit on the market which makes other anti-oxidant fruit look like wimps: it’s called the aronia berry and, according to research, it has more antioxidant muscle than just about any other kind of fruit.

Also known as the chokeberry due to the way European settlers in North America reacted when they ate it; the new name bears no preconceived negative connotations, and comes from its Latin name Aronia melanocarpa.

Native to North America, aronia was introduced to eastern Europe and Russia in the beginning of the 20th century and is grown there for wines and juices. In the US the berry is grown in the upper Midwest, with thousands of bushes planted there each year for cultivation.

The main push for the rising popularity of aronia came from the Pittz family. In 1997 Andrew Pittz’s parents were looking for a crop they could grow on the hilly and silt-heavy soil close to the Missouri River. They discovered aronia, and planted 200 bushes that year. It was a good choice because the bush grows easily in that area and has few pests. The bushes do not need to be planted anew each year.

Almost 20 years later Andrew, who is 28, sells his berries to about half of all the 237 Hy-Vee stores, and to every Whole Foods market in their Midwest region of the US.  Not only have the Pittz family been successfully growing and selling aronia, but they have been spreading the gospel to just about anyone who will listen.

His farm sponsors a yearly field day in September that attracts thousands of participants. Last year Andrew planted aronia bushes in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Iowa State is also helping to promote the berry. It offers grants to help people begin to grow aronia, and promotes the berry as a value-added crop and a great way to diversify farm income.

“We want the aronia berry to be to Iowa’s Heartland what the peach is to Georgia.” Pittz said.

Minors at Border Creating Immigration Crisis for US

President Barack Obama said today that most of the unaccompanied minors that have shown up at the US border with Mexico will unlikely qualify for the humanitarian aid that would allow them to stay in the US.

The White House’s announcement is a warning to children and their families from countries south of the border that it is not worth the dangerous trip north if in the end the children are denied asylum in the US and sent back home. The pronouncement was made in conjunction with a proposal to be submitted by the White House to Congress for a budget to hire more immigration judges and open more detention facilities to properly deal with the growing crisis of children seeking refuge in the US. Obama is seeking over $2 million from lawmakers for this proposal.

Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, said that the administration will continue to review each immigration case, there is an expectation that not too many of the individuals seeking residence in the US will be granted such a status.

“It’s unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief,” Earnest said. “It means they will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned.”

Since it is unknown how long it will take for the funding to come through, if at all, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted that processing each child could be long delayed. Dealing with the incoming tide of unaccompanied minors crossing the border is not just a legal conundrum for the US, but a humanitarian one as well.

“Our border is not open to illegal migration, and we are taking a number of steps to address it, including turning people around faster,” Johnson told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

At the same time, he said, the administration is “looking at ways to create additional options for dealing with the children in particular, consistent with our laws and our values.”

Georgia Takes First Place in CNBC Survey Best State for Business

According to a recent CNBC survey, Georgia came out on top of all other US states for the way business is conducted there.

The survey looks at ten key aspects of conducting business, giving a different number of points to each, according to the importance that particular aspect has for business. The CNBC Top States study uses more than 50 metrics in the ten key categories of competitiveness. The categories are weighted according to how frequently they appear as selling points in marketing literature distributed by the economic development offices of each state. This is how the survey holds the states to their own set of standards. For 2014 the following categories were evaluated, with maximum points which can be earned in each:

o    Cost of Doing Business (450 points)
o    Economy (375 points)
o    Infrastructure (350 points)
o    Workforce (300 points)
o    Quality of Life (300 points)
o    Technology & Innovation (300 points)
o    Business Friendliness (200 points)
o    Education (150 points)
o    Cost of Living (50 points)
o    Access to Capital (25 points)

Georgia finished first with 1659 points out of a maximum of 2500. In second place was Texas with 1641 points. Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina were 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

The five worst states for business were Connecticut, which ranked 46th, Alaska, which came in 47th overall; West Virginia, Hawaii, and Rhode Island coming in at the bottom of the barrel. CNBC has never rated the Ocean State higher than 48th. It is a state with high taxes, high unemployment, and high utility costs. Rhode Island is working on making some changes. They have passed over 25 business reform legislation to ease up on heavy regulations and attract more jobs. These reforms are part of a four-year plan, which Rhode Island officials say was motivated by the CNBC past surveys.

Aman Group on the Move

The Aman Group is set to relocate from Singapore to London. This move is being undertaken in an effort to provide the company with a “central base” that is more suited to it being branded as an international company. The Aman Group will still retain a presence in Singapore – focusing on the firm’s presence in Asia Pacific – but the headquarters will be in the UK.
In other news the firm appointed Lisa Bovio to the position of Chief Marketing Officer and Carolyn Turnbull to Executive Director of Global Sales. Bovio comes from Kerzner International where she was SVP of International Sales & Marketing and Turnball was already with Aman – the investor group led by Vladimir Doronin – in a different role. These internal changes are in addition to another such personnel fluctuation that saw Adrian Zecha – the company’s founder – stepping down as chairman. Zecha was replaced by Johan Eliasach who joined Aman from Head NV where he was company CEO and chairman.