Business Briefs: NLRB pushes UPMC to comply with subpoenas

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NLRB pushes UPMC to comply with subpoenas

The National Labor Relations Board on Thursday filed three motions in U.S. District Court requesting the court order UPMC to comply with subpoenas demanding hospital documents in the unfair labor practice case regarding actions taken against service workers trying to organize a union.

The hospital, so far, has refused to provide documents regarding the relationship between UPMC, UMPC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside, despite revisions to the subpoenas granted to the hospital by the administrative judge hearing the case.

A statement from the medical center in response to the motion said the issue of a single employer for the two hospitals was raised late in the proceedings and since there has been no request for relief against UPMC Shadyside, "The delay and expense involved in responding to those requests is therefore not justified."

Chemicals maker posts net loss of about $219M

Lanxess, the Germany-based specialty plastics and chemicals maker with North American headquarters in Findlay, on Thursday posted a 2013 net loss of 159 million euros ($219 million), or 1.91 euros per share, compared with net income of 508 million euros, or 6.11 euros per share in 2012. Global sales dropped by nearly 9 percent to 8.3 billion euros.The company said it had “a challenging year” that included volatile prices and increased competition especially in synthetic rubbers.

In North America, sales fell by about 17 percent to 1.3 billion euros. Among the factors that hurt earnings, Lanxess said, were costs for a restructuring program in which more than 700 employees have already agreed to take voluntary early retirements or severance by the end of 2015.

Lanxess has 17,500 employees worldwide including about 350 in the Pittsburgh region at the Findlay offices and at facilities in Neville Island and Burgettstown.

Separately on Thursday, the company’s former chief executive, Axel Heitmann, who was ousted earlier this year, said he has hired lawyers to look into whether Lanxess illegally made him give up severance pay over a dispute about the cost of a security system installed at his home.

M*Modal files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

M*Modal, a Franklin, Tenn.-based documentation and speech recognition company founded out of Carnegie Mellon University, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In a press release, CEO Duncan James said the company will realign its debt structure and is in talks with lenders and bondholders regarding the terms of the plan.

Mylan recalling muscle relaxant, FDA reports

Mylan recalled five lots of carisoprodol tablets because of failed impurity/​degradation specifications, according to the most recent enforcement report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The nationwide recall, covering roughly 3,200 cartons of the muscle relaxant, was initiated Jan. 28, The medication was produced for Qualitest Pharmaceuticals by Mylan Institutional Inc., according to the report.

IRS receives half of expected individual returns

The IRS said it has received some 75 million individual income tax returns as of last Friday, or roughly half of all the individual returns it expects to get for the 2013 tax filing season. So far, the vast majority of returns — 92 percent — have been filed electronically. Refunds have averaged $2,917, the IRS said.

VW recalls 15K Passats for headlight problem

Volkswagen is recalling about 150,000 Passat midsize cars from the 2012 and 2013 model years because the headlights can be damaged if the hoods are closed roughly. VW says if the hoods are closed hard, the vibration or impact can cut off electricity to the low-beam headlights. Drivers would see a dashboard warning light if this happens. VW dealers will install an improved bulb fitting and adjust the hood bumpers if needed at no cost to owners.

Wal-Mart looks to shake winter with sales push

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hoping to shake off the winter sales doldrums with its biggest spring sales push ever. The company is discounting more than 60 outdoor essentials from lawn mowers to mulch by 30 percent to 50 percent. The sale starts Friday and will run through March 29.

Gauge of U.S. economy posts solid February gain

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.5 percent in February, the largest amount in three months, suggesting growth should rebound following a severe winter.

Sales of existing homes slip to 19-month low

Sales of U.S. existing homes slipped in February to their lowest level since July 2012 as severe winter weather, rising prices and a tight supply of homes discouraged buyers. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales declined 0.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million.

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