Saturday, October 31, 2009

Union Further Delays Delta Employees' Opportunity for Elections

/PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) yesterday issued the following statement from Mike Campbell, executive vice president of Human Resources and Labor Relations, in response to the International Association of Machinists' (IAM) decision to withdraw its application for a union election among Delta's 14,000 fleet service employees.

"The IAM's action is repugnant, and is nothing more than the continuation of a pattern of stalling resolution of union representation among our work groups. The IAM communicated to Delta employees in early August that it could file for elections for the remaining 20,000 employees 'within weeks.' Now, months later, and on the one-year anniversary of our merger, the IAM instead withdraws its application claiming that we are not a single carrier.

"We don't buy it and we don't believe our people will either.

"The timing of the IAM's action is suspicious considering it is taking place days before the NMB publishes its proposal to change the longstanding majority voting rules.

"Further delay disrespects our people who deserve the opportunity to make their own choice regarding union representation."

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Friday, October 30, 2009

NCR Opens New ATM Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ga.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) today (October 29) opens its new ATM manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ga., rolling out its first NCR SelfServ™ ATMs and bringing innovative manufacturing back to North America. In less than five months after announcing plans to build a domestic manufacturing facility, NCR was able to open the 350,000 square-foot facility and begin production of ATM machines for its North American customers.

The company celebrated the opening at its Corporate Ridge Business Park plant with key officials and elected representatives from the City of Columbus and the State of Georgia, who participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony, a tour of the manufacturing plant and an opportunity to see the production of some of the first NCR ATM machines being built at the new site.

NCR has filed for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification—the Green Building Rating System that is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. The company has also reused and recycled materials throughout the building, from the initial demolition, such as cinder blocks and carpet.

“Our decision to bring our North American ATM manufacturing in-house was driven by our belief that as self-service ATM technology becomes more innovative and strategic to financial institutions, the ability to control manufacturing in key markets becomes a core and competitive advantage to our growth strategy,” said Peter Dorsman, senior vice president of Global Operations at NCR. “By in-sourcing the production of our SelfServ ATMs, we will decrease time-to-market, improve our internal collaboration, and lower our current operating costs.”

Approximately 870 jobs will be created at a new Columbus, Ga., site over the next three years. With the help of the state and local government, NCR has already hired and trained nearly 120 employees through Georgia’s Quick Start Program – a customized workforce-training program for businesses across the state. Quick Start has been instrumental in supporting NCR to drive comprehensive employee training plans, create assessment programs and establish a mindset in each employee to strive for continuous improvement efforts.

“Georgia’s strategic strengths in advanced manufacturing will help drive the success of NCR’s new facility in Columbus,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “We have an innovative edge here in Georgia that has enabled companies to thrive, and NCR is a perfect fit as it manufactures its next-generation ATMs and self-serve devices for the North American market.”

The City of Columbus offered a location with a talented workforce, close proximity to major transportation hubs such as Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and many of Georgia’s highly esteemed academic institutions. The new facility is also close to NCR’s innovation center in Duluth, Ga., and the company’s global customer service organization in Peachtree City, Ga.

In addition, NCR’s campus-like ecosystem between its partners, suppliers and Georgia’s academic institutions will help drive and improve cross-functional collaboration, training and innovation -- ensuring that NCR’s manufacturing process is cutting edge.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Analysis of GDP by Bart van Ark, Chief Economist of The Conference Board

/PRNewswire/ -- The expansion in Q3 GDP (3.5%) shows we have clearly begun to emerge from the trough. But there's still a long way to go, and we still don't know enough about the sustainability of these recovery signals. The comparatively good Q3 news is largely driven by temporary factors like an uptick in consumer spending -- notably through the U.S. government's "cash for clunkers" car sales subsidy program -- as well as an easing in inventory rundowns.

Q4 could bring even faster easing in inventory rundowns that accounts for all GDP growth (we forecast 3.1 percent). Consumer spending will fall flat during the holiday season, and exports will recover more slowly than in Q3. Any modest uptick in investments in equipment and software will most likely be offset by continued declines in commercial real estate.

A less powerful inventory boost with no positive offsetting contributors may well limit GDP growth to 1 percent in early 2010. We forecast growth to improve only moderately, to around 2 percent, by the middle of 2010. The savings rate will remain relatively high at 4.5 to 5 percent of disposable income, dampening improvements in real consumer spending, investment and trade.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FAA Revokes Pilot Licenses

The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination airport on October 21, 2009 while operating Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis.

The pilots were out of contact with air traffic controllers for an extended period of time and told federal investigators that they were distracted by a conversation. Air traffic controllers and airline officials repeatedly tried to reach them through radio and data contact, without success.

The emergency revocations cite violations of a number of Federal Aviation Regulations. Those include failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.

The revocations are effective immediately. The pilots have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocations to the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Governor Perdue Lauds Coca-Cola Expansion

Governor Sonny Perdue today praised The Coca-Cola Company for its continued effort to grow its business presence and invest in Georgia, as the Company prepares to open a $100 million-plus expansion to its Atlanta production facilities.

“Coca-Cola is a very important part of Georgia's economy,” Governor Perdue said. “I am thrilled that after more than a century of doing business in Georgia, Coca-Cola continues to see this state as a great place for new investment in facilities and jobs.”

The plant expansion will contain production facilities for the concentrated ingredients used in the new Coca-Cola Freestyle™ fountain dispenser. Coca-Cola Freestyle™ is the brand name for the “fountain of the future” from The Coca-Cola Company that uses microdosing technology to dispense more than 100 sparkling and still beverage brands from a single freestanding unit.
“The future looks bright for Coca-Cola Freestyle,” said Sandy Douglas, President Coca-Cola North America. “And that creates the potential for even more growth in our facilities and capabilities in Atlanta.”

The new facility will preserve jobs in the Atlanta syrup plant and could lead to job growth in the future. The Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Development Authority of Fulton County worked together to aid Coca-Cola in the plant expansion.
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BWAY Holding Company Announces the Completion of Plastic Packaging Acquisition, Plant Rationalizations, and Provides Fiscal 2010 Guidance

/PRNewswire/ -- BWAY Corporation, the principal operating subsidiary of BWAY Holding Company (NYSE:BWY) , a leading North American supplier of general line rigid containers, today reported that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of the assets, and certain liabilities, of Ball Corporation's (NYSE:BLL) plastic packaging plant and business located outside of Atlanta in Newnan, GA. The facility (BWAY's "Atlanta plant") produces injection molded plastic pails and certain other products. The Company paid approximately $32.0 million for the acquisition, and funded the transaction using cash on hand.

Ken Roessler, BWAY's President and Chief Executive Office stated that, "This business is an excellent fit with the Company's core market add-on acquisition strategy. In addition to sales and market share growth, this acquisition provides further product portfolio expansion through the addition of well established screw top pail designs which supports the Company's goal of positioning BWAY as the premier supplier for rigid general line packaging. We expect to realize significant synergies, including potential future plant rationalizations."

The Company announced that it has completed its evaluation of plant rationalizations associated with the August 2009 acquisition of Central Can Company located in Chicago, IL. The Company will close two metal packaging plants located in Chicago, IL and Brampton, ON and move business and certain equipment into the recently acquired Central Can Company facility (BWAY's "Chicago plant"). The Chicago plant consolidation, which will create the second largest plant in the Company's manufacturing network, is expected to be completed during the Company's second fiscal quarter (ending March 31, 2010). Annual synergies from the rationalization, estimated at $6.0 million, are expected to be phased-in during fiscal 2010 beginning in the second fiscal quarter. The Company expects to record restructuring charges associated with this initiative of approximately $3.1 million and accelerated depreciation of $0.8 million during fiscal 2010, and make capital expenditures of approximately $2.5 million to facilitate the consolidation and make productivity improvements.

Commenting on the plant closures, Mr. Roessler stated that, "An important element of our add-on acquisition strategy is the opportunity for significant synergies. The Central Can acquisition clearly met this criterion with expected savings in the areas of purchasing, freight, SG&A, and manufacturing overhead. These plant rationalizations support our ongoing effort to increase the scale of our manufacturing facilities and reduce our fixed cost base."

Also, the Company provided first quarter and full year fiscal 2010 earnings and free cash flow guidance, which includes expectations for the recent acquisitions of Ball Corporation's plastic packaging plant and Central Can Company with announced rationalizations. Specifically, the Company stated the following expectations:

-- The Company's financial expectations assume that end market demand for
fiscal 2010 will have minimal recovery or growth from fiscal 2009. In
addition to sales gains attributable to the recent acquisitions for
fiscal 2010, the Company expects increased sales from share gains
attributable to recently developed plastic products, and continued
cross-selling initiatives between its metal and plastic packaging
segments.
-- First quarter fiscal 2010 (ending December 31, 2009) adjusted net
income of $0.05 - $0.13 per diluted shared. Expected adjustments to
GAAP net income/(loss) per diluted share are restructuring charges and
accelerated depreciation associated with plant rationalizations, and
transaction costs associated with the plastic packaging acquisition
from Ball Corporation totaling $0.11 per diluted share. This compares
to an adjusted net loss per diluted share of $(0.11) for the first
quarter of fiscal 2009, including a $0.02 adjustment to GAAP net loss
per diluted share for restructuring charges. The Company expects
adjusted EBITDA of $22.0 - $25.0 million, excluding $3.6 of
restructuring charges and transaction costs, compared to $15.6 million
for the first quarter last year which excluded $0.7 million of
restructuring charges. The Company's first fiscal quarter has
historically experienced the slowest seasonal demand.
-- Full year fiscal 2010 adjusted net income per diluted share of $1.42 -
$1.60. Expected adjustments to GAAP net income per diluted share are
restructuring charges and accelerated depreciation associated with
plant rationalizations, and transaction costs associated with the
plastic packaging acquisition from Ball Corporation totaling $0.13 per
diluted share. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of
$138.0 - $142.0 million, excluding $4.3 of restructuring charges and
transaction costs. The Company stated in a press release on October
12, 2009 that it expects fiscal 2009 adjusted net income per diluted
share to be at the high end of the previously released guidance range
of $1.20 - $1.26, and adjusted EBITDA also at the high end of the
previously announced $122.0 - $124.0 million range.
-- Full year fiscal 2010 free cash flow (net cash provided by operating
activities less capital expenditures) is expected to be in the range
of $55.0 - $60.0 million. On October 12, 2009 the Company disclosed
that it expects fiscal 2009 free cash flow to exceed $50.0 million.
Full year fiscal 2010 capital expenditures, including estimated
expenditures associated with the Chicago plant consolidation discussed
above, are expected to be $23.0 - $25.0 million.

About BWAY Holding Company


BWAY Holding Company is a leading North American supplier of general line rigid containers. The Company operates 20 plants (excluding announced plant closures) throughout the United States and Canada serving industry leading customers on a national basis.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You should not place reliance on these statements. Forward-looking statements include information concerning the Company's liquidity and its possible or assumed future results of operations, including descriptions of its business strategies. These statements often include words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "estimate," "seek," "will," "may" or similar expressions. These statements are based on certain assumptions that management has made in light of its experience in the industry as well as its perceptions of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors management believes are appropriate in these circumstances. As you read and consider this document, you should understand that these statements are not guarantees of performance or results. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Many factors could affect the Company's actual financial results and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Some important factors include competitive risk from other container manufacturers or self-manufacture by customers, termination of customer contracts, loss or reduction of business from key customers, dependence on key personnel, changes in steel, resin, other raw material and energy costs or availability, product liability or product recall costs, lead pigment and lead paint litigation, increased consolidation in end markets, consolidation of key suppliers, contractions in end markets, increased use of alternative packaging, labor unrest, environmental, health and safety costs, management's inability to evaluate and selectively pursue acquisitions, fluctuation of quarterly operating results, an increase in interest rates, restrictions in debt agreements, fluctuations of the Canadian dollar, and the other factors discussed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking statements contained in this document might not prove to be accurate and you should not place undue reliance upon them. All forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or persons acting on behalf of the Company are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. All such statements speak only as of the date made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

The Company provides financial measures and terms not calculated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (GAAP). Presentation of non-GAAP financial measures such as, but not limited to "EBITDA," "adjusted EBITDA," "EBIT," "adjusted EBIT," "adjusted net income (loss)," "adjusted net income (loss) per diluted share", and "gross margin (excluding depreciation and amortization)" provide investors with an alternative method for assessing the Company's operating results in a manner that enables them to more thoroughly evaluate the Company's performance. These non-GAAP financial measures provide a baseline for assessing the Company's future earnings expectations. BWAY's management uses these non-GAAP financial measures for the same purpose. The non-GAAP financial measures included in this news release are provided to give investors access to the types of measures that the Company uses in analyzing its results.

BWAY's calculation of non-GAAP financial measures is not necessarily comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies, or to financial measures as defined in the Company's debt agreements. These non-GAAP financial measures may be considered in addition to results prepared in accordance with GAAP, but should not be considered a substitute for or superior to GAAP results. Schedules that reconcile these non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP financial measures are included with this news release.

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Delta Air Lines Issues Statement on Northwest Flight 188 Investigation

/PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today (October 26) issued a statement regarding the company's cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the investigation of Northwest Flight 188. Delta and its Northwest operating subsidiary continue to openly and fully cooperate with the NTSB and FAA to complete the investigation. The pilots in command of Northwest Flight 188 remain suspended until the conclusion of the investigations into this incident.

Using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots' command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline's flight deck policies and violations of that policy will result in termination.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson said: "Nothing is more important to Delta than safety. We are going to continue to cooperate fully with the NTSB and the FAA in their investigations."

The NTSB earlier today (October 26) issued a public release highlighting the initial findings of its investigation into the incident, including evidence that the pilots involved said they were distracted at cruise altitude between San Diego and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The NTSB's press release stated that the pilots said in interviews that "there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from ATC even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio ... neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers ... both said they lost track of time ... (and) each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure."

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red Mango to Award Franchises in Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Red Mango, the fastest-growing retailer of all-natural nonfat frozen yogurt, has announced that it will begin awarding franchise agreements in Atlanta as part of an aggressive national expansion campaign. Recently honored with Nation's Restaurant News' 2009 "Hot Concepts!" award, the company plans to open some 20 stores in the area over the next five years.

"We're experiencing the strongest franchise growth in our company's history, and Atlanta is the perfect market to add to our network," said James Franks, vice president of franchising for Red Mango. "Despite the economy, the interest in our business and delivering on our brand promise for health, taste and style only gets bigger."

Red Mango launched a national franchise program in 2009 to answer growing consumer demand for a healthy food option that has resulted in some 40 franchise signings with a commitment of 209 new locations to-date. The popularity of the brand's signature tart frozen yogurt with the innovations and the support of a seasoned management team have put the company on track to reach as many as 550 locations across the country in five years.

"Our slogan to 'Treat Yourself Well' has made a real impact, delivering a product that not only tastes great but is good for you too," Franks said. "The franchisees we've attracted who are passionate about delivering that to the marketplace have helped Red Mango grow from coast to coast. It has been a huge win-win situation for our business and for customers across the country."

Red Mango opened its first store in Los Angeles in July 2007 and has grown to almost 60 locations across 14 states.

Red Mango is currently awarding franchise opportunities in select markets across the country for business owners and entrepreneurs interested in joining the growing network. Visit www.redmangofranchising.com for more information.

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Southern Company to Acquire 600 Megawatt Power Plant

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company that acquires, builds, manages and owns wholesale generation assets, today announced that it has entered into an Acquisition Agreement with an affiliate of LS Power to acquire 100 percent ownership interest in West Georgia Generating Company, LLC, which has a plant located in Thomaston, Ga.

The Thomaston plant is a peaking facility with four gas-fired combustion turbines with total capacity of approximately 600 megawatts. Capacity from two of the four units is sold through long-term power purchase agreements with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the Georgia Energy Cooperative.

In addition to the acquisition of the West Georgia facility, the agreement includes the acquisition by LS Power of a 100 percent ownership interest of Southern Power's DeSoto County Generating Company, LLC which has a plant located in Arcadia, Fla. The DeSoto plant consists of two combustion turbine units with a combined capacity of 320 megawatts.

The closing of the transaction is subject to several conditions including all pending regulatory approvals.

"This acquisition fits well into Southern Company's strategy of continuing to meet energy demand with an increasingly diverse generation mix," said David Ratcliffe, chairman, president and CEO, Southern Company.

"This transaction reinforces Southern Power's disciplined strategy to acquire and/or build generating assets for which the output is significantly covered by long-term bi-lateral contracts in the wholesale market," said Southern Power President Ronnie Bates. "This agreement represents a growth opportunity that is a good fit for Southern Power."

LS Power is a power generation, transmission and investment group with a proven track record of successful development activities, operations management and commercial execution. LS Power has been involved in the development, construction, or operations of over 20,000 MW of power generation throughout the United States.

Southern Power is among the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. The company owns and operates more than 7,500 megawatts with facilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina and has an additional 820 megawatts committed to construction in North Carolina and Texas.

With 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast. A leading U.S. producer of electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company is consistently listed among the top U.S. electric service providers in customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Visit our Web site at www.southerncompany.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, plans and estimated costs for new generation resources for the Company and growth opportunities for the Company. The Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of the Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, and subsequent securities filings, could cause results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory change, including legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding deregulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry, implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, environmental laws including regulation of water quality and emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot, or particulate matter and other substances, and also changes in tax and other laws and regulations to which the Company and its subsidiaries are subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; current and future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings, or inquiries, including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission matters; the effects, extent, and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets in which the Company operates; variations in demand for electricity, including those relating to weather, the general economy, population and business growth (and declines), and the effects of energy conservation measures; available sources and costs of fuels; effects of inflation; internal restructuring or other restructuring options that may be pursued; potential business strategies, including acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses, which cannot be assured to be completed or beneficial to the Company; the ability of counterparties of the Company to make payments as and when due and to perform as required; the ability to obtain new short- and long-term contracts with wholesale customers; the direct or indirect effect on the Company's business resulting from terrorist incidents and the threat of terrorist incidents; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts, including the Company's credit ratings; the ability of the Company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, hurricanes, droughts, pandemic health events such as an avian or other influenza, or other similar occurrences; the direct or indirect effects on the Company's business resulting from incidents similar to the August 2003 power outage in the Northeast; and the effect of accounting pronouncements issued periodically by standard setting bodies. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Severance Agreements - What to Think About Before You Sign One

24-7 -When I represent terminated employees, many of them have been presented with severance agreements that they ask me to review for them. Many more have not been offered severance, but may be able to receive it if they know how to ask. What should you do if you've been fired, laid off, or made redundant, before you sign a severance agreement? And what should you do if severance is not offered? Here are some things to consider.

1. If severance is offered, make sure an attorney reviews the agreement. You may be giving up rights you have not considered, or may be agreeing to something that will cost you more than the amount of severance.

2. Do you have a pension? How is it dealt with in the agreement? Many agreements contain releases that include releases under ERISA, which is the law that governs pensions. Make sure you are not accidentally giving up your pension rights. If you had an employer-matched 401 and are not vested, you are probably giving up the employer contribution to your 401.

3. Did you have a non-compete agreement? If not, and the employer is adding one, it may limit you ability to get a new job. If the time restriction is longer than the number of weeks of severance, it is probably not worth signing the agreement unless you are going into an entirely new field.

4. If you had a non-compete agreement, you should also have an attorney review it for you to make sure you understand your limitations before you sign a severance agreement. You will most likely be reaffirming those restrictions in a severance agreement, so may be giving up your defenses to the non-competition provisions. Some employers will try to add restrictions you did not have, make the restrictions longer or for a larger geographic area. Some know that they had an agreement that was not enforceable and use the severance agreement to put in place an enforceable provision.

5. Is the release mutual? If the employer wants you to release them from any claims, they should also release you. Some claim to be offended by such a request, will say, "what did you do that you need to be released from?" The answer, of course, is, "What did YOU do that you need to be released from?" I have seen unscrupulous employers have employees sign releases, then turn around and sue the former employee for alleged wrongdoing on the job. Mutual releases assure that any claims are released by both sides. In banking, or other financial arenas, the employer will want an exception for undiscovered financial fraud/embezzlement, which should be acceptable. But if they know about it at the time of the agreement, they should be willing to release it or give up their right to a release so the employee can assert any defenses or counterclaims they have.

6. Is confidentiality mutual? Employers want the severance agreement to be kept confidential. But if the employer does not have to keep it confidential, they may get cute and say things to references like, "I have to look at the agreement to see what I'm allowed to say." Protect yourself and make sure that they can't disclose the agreement to potential employers.

7. Put in non-disparagement. You don't want this employer to be able to say bad things to potential employers or to customers, co-workers or others in the community. If they want non-disparagement to be mutual, to keep you from bad-mouthing them, agree. It is worth the peace of mind to know that they will not be making negative comments that keep you from future employment.

8. Do you have insurance? Many employers will pay some or all of your COBRA payments to tide you over while you are working. You need to make sure you understand what will happen to your insurance benefits.

9. Do you have stock options, stock appreciation rights, or other similar rights? Make sure the agreement is not making you give up valuable rights you may have. If you were about to vest, see if the employer will agree to vest your rights. If you were fired to keep you from vesting, you may have claims against the employer.

10. Do you have any potential claims against the employer? Potential claims may give you leverage to negotiate a severance package if it is not offered, or to negotiate a better package. Ask yourself some questions:

a. Am I of a different race, age, sex, national origin, marital status, color, or religion from those who were not terminated for the same reason or offense? If so, you may have a discrimination claim.

b. Was I recently sexually harassed or the victim of other discriminatory harassment based upon race, age, religion, national origin, marital status, color, or disability? You can't be fired in retaliation for reporting such harassment.

c. Did I recently report, object to, or refuse to participate in discrimination, harassment, or illegal activity? If so, you may be a whistleblower.

d. Did I recently make a worker's compensation claim? If so, it's illegal to terminate you for making such a claim, and you also need to make sure you are not giving up your worker's compensation claim in the agreement.

e. Did I recently take leave due to bereavement, sickness, disability, or serious medical condition of a family member? If so, you may have a Family and Medical Leave Act claim.

f. Does the employer owe me overtime or wages? Make sure you are paid what you are owed. Plus, failure to pay wages is a great defense to a non-compete agreement.

g. Did I recently testify against the employer or in any court case where I was subpoenaed? You can't be terminated for your testimony under subpoena.

h. Am I pregnant? You can't be terminated for your pregnancy, or because you recently gave birth and the employer has stereotypical beliefs about women with children.

i. Did the employer breach a contract with me?

j. Am I over 40? If so, in a layoff or redundancy, the employer is supposed to provide you with a list of the ages of the others laid off or made redundant so you can determine whether or not age discrimination has occurred.

If you are in doubt about your rights or any potential claims you may have, contact an attorney to discuss your options. There are attorneys who have experience in negotiating severance agreements to make sure your rights are protected.

Article provided by Donna M. Ballman, P.A.
Visit us at http://www.ballmanfirm.com

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

MFG Chemical Agrees to Pay Civil Penalty for Toxic Explosion at Georgia Plant

/PRNewswire/ -- MFG Chemical, Inc., has agreed to pay $270,000 in civil penalties to resolve claims resulting from a toxic release on April 12, 2004 of extremely hazardous chemicals at the company's Dalton, Ga., plant, the Justice Department announced today.

The toxic release resulted from a runaway reaction at the plant when MFG, upon its initial production run for triallyl cyanuarate, mixed allyl alcohol with other chemicals, leading to an extreme increase in temperature and causing an explosion that released toxic gases to the atmosphere.

As a result, the surrounding community within a half mile radius of the MFG plant was evacuated. Over 150 people, including several emergency responders, were treated for exposure at the local hospital. One-half mile of vegetation south of the MFG plant was also burned and much of the aquatic life was killed throughout several miles of surrounding creeks which were contaminated by the water sprayed on the toxic vapor cloud in an attempt to control the vapor release.

The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that MFG failed to adhere to the Clean Air Act's general duty of care provision. The general duty of care requirement obligates companies handling extremely hazardous substances to take preventative measures to identify the risks involved and to reduce the risks by providing layers of protection on their equipment such as high temperature alarms, automatic feed shut off mechanisms, adequate pressure relief systems and a vapor release recovery and containment system. The complaint alleges MFG failed to identify the risk of a runaway reaction through its failure to calculate the temperature/time profile and to have appropriate layers of protection in place prior to the incident.

MFG has implemented measures to address conditions at the plant contributing to the explosion and release, including halting the use of allyl alcohol and hiring an experienced safety engineer to oversee its compliance with its Clean Air Act obligations. MFG also paid for the clean up of surrounding contaminated creeks. The $270,000 reflects the civil penalty that the United States determined MFG has the financial ability to pay.

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Six Tips for Business Leaders to Consider as We Emerge from Recession

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Now that we are finally seeing some signs that we may be beginning to come out of the long recession, what should we be doing to fully take advantage of a recovery? That’s the question most middle market executives are asking today.

Rich D’Amaro, Chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Tatum LLC, the nation’s largest executive service firm focused primarily on the Office of the CFO, has developed a list of six tips which should serve as a basic guide for financial executives in the coming months.

1. Identify and Maintain Your Strengths, and Your Best Customers

Identify the strengths that have enabled your success to date, and those that will be important in the future. Which capabilities and skills are most critical? What distinguishes your ability to serve customers effectively? Identify your highest-margin customers, and understand what you are “doing right” for them. Develop a game plan to protect and build on the strengths that have allowed you to be indispensable to these customers. Rather than cutting costs across the board, think about how you can shift resources to retain these high-margin customers, and attract more customers like them.

2. Capture Market Share: Consider Opportunistic Acquisitions

Recessions reshape industries faster than good times do, creating opportunities for those with the vision and ability to seize them quickly. Studies have shown that companies have twice the opportunity to change their relative position in an industry during a recession compared to growth times. Keep an eye on competitors, and stand ready to capture market share as other players allow cost cutting to damage their service and quality, or fail outright. Market valuations are still down for strong and weak companies alike, and companies with resources to acquire complementary rivals will earn higher returns than they can with internal, organic growth. Of course, acquire only companies that support your ability to be the best in the world at what you do, and work aggressively to capture synergies. New opportunities may also exist to gain new alliance partners, to move into adjacent markets, to adopt new pricing models, or to enter new channels. Some of these opportunities may be created by the failure of competitors, and some may be created by a new customer appetite for solutions that show measurable ROI or reduce risk.

3. Manage Liquidity As Closely As Profitability

Your company has been dealing not only with negative growth but also with liquidity constraints. During good times you may not have obtained sufficient lines of credit to sustain your company through economic adversity. Trying to maintain liquidity on a smaller revenue base can be crippling. Every balance sheet dollar has to be turned over faster to contribute to working capital. Maximize cash flow by matching inventories to sales and collecting from customers faster. Take advantage of increased supplier willingness to share risk and to provide favorable terms.

4. Keep Core Activities In-House, and Outsource Everything Else

Build and protect those “core” capabilities that differentiate you, while aggressively outsourcing anything non-core. Depending on your business, non-core activities may include IT maintenance, human resources administration, benefits and payroll, accounts receivable and payable, manufacturing, distribution or sales. You’ll get the benefit of service provider expertise and economies of scale, and will pay only for services you need. The biggest benefit of outsourcing, however, is that it shifts your focus, resources and capital toward serving your clients’ higher value needs and building your competitive advantage.

5. Create New Metrics and Manage by Them

Tight economics put a premium on your ability to understand and model the relationships between revenues, costs and margins. Think about metrics that focus on the building blocks of revenue and sustaining market share, including sales pipeline, customer satisfaction, pricing and market penetration. Metrics should look beyond core financials to provide management with insight into market dynamics such as market share trends. The good news is that the enhanced metrics you need during challenging times will help you manage more profitably and efficiently in good times as well.

6. Communicate and Reenergize!

A downturn is a scary time for all your constituencies. You now need to begin the process of re-energizing your employees and creating new trust among all your constituencies. Frequent and honest communication will go a long way toward maintaining a calm and motivated workforce. Create regularly scheduled forums to listen to concerns, and to update employees on the state of the company and on their roles in achieving new company objectives. Studies show that employees are motivated far more by a sense of shared purpose than by compensation. Create that shared purpose and reinforce it daily. Lead your company out of the recession with realistic confidence, candor and a renewed sense of direction.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Delta Wins Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Flexibility

/PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) has won the 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, a national honor recognizing the company's efforts to provide a variety of workplace options that allow employees to perform at their best at work and at home.

"This distinguished award recognizes our continuing efforts to implement programs that provide our people more flexibility to balance work life and personal time," said Mike Campbell, executive vice president-Human Resources and Labor Relations. "Our people are the best in the industry, and when they're at their best Delta is a better company."

More than 18 months ago, Delta launched several new workplace policies and programs to address the specific needs of individual work groups. These include:

-- A work-at-home program for Reservations Sales, whereby call center
employees are equipped with company computers and phones in their
homes to allow them to assist customers on flexible schedules.
-- Flexible shift opportunities for employees in many areas, with
generous swapping and shift-trading policies, compressed work weeks
with paid personal time off and personal leaves of absence.
-- A corporate telecommuting program for eligible employees, which equips
them with the tools to work from home when necessary and provides the
flexibility to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Sloan Award winners are evaluated through a rigorous, two-step process which measures a company's workplace flexibility against national data, then validates the results through a random survey of employees.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UPS Offers Shippers “Green” Option to Offset Carbon Dioxide

(BUSINESS WIRE)--UPS (NYSE:UPS) today became the first small package carrier to offer its customers the ability to offset the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the transport of their packages within the United States.

Under the UPS carbon neutral program, UPS will offer U.S. shippers the option of paying a small fee to calculate and offset the climate impact of the shipment of each of their packages. Detailed information about UPS carbon neutral services is available at www.ups.com/carbonneutral.

The per-package price for the optional service is $0.05 for UPS Ground services and $0.20 for UPS Next Day Air®, UPS 2nd Day Air® and UPS 3 Day Select® services. Based on customer feedback, a flat fee is used to make it simple and convenient for those wishing to participate. The price includes the cost of calculation, administrative costs associated with the service and the cost of the offsets.

Offsets will be purchased based on the carbon associated with participating customer shipments. To encourage customers to participate in this flat fee program, UPS will match the offset purchases, effectively doubling the offsets purchased in 2009-2010, up to $1 million.

The calculation to measure the CO2 impact of the customers’ shipments is based on a variety of current and historical operational data, including distance and transport mode. UPS’s calculation methodology and processes are verified by Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), an inspection, verification, testing and certification company. The calculator is based on Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international standard for carbon accounting and reporting. In addition, the carbon offset process is also certified by The CarbonNeutral Company.

“Our customers told us they wanted an easy, credible way to join us in our efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chains,” said Bob Stoffel, senior vice president, engineering, strategy, supply chain and sustainability. “These services complement UPS’s own sustainability efforts while offering customers a new option to address the environmental challenges of their supply chains.”

The UPS carbon neutral service initially is available to the roughly 1 million U.S. customers who use UPS Internet Shipping with their UPS account number. UPS plans to extend the program to other UPS customers in 2010.

UPS Internet Shipping users simply check a box for carbon neutral shipping when they near the completion of their transaction on ups.com. UPS then will purchase high-quality certified carbon offsets. Initially, these will include offsets certified to the “Gold Standard,” “Voluntary Carbon Standard” or “Climate Action Reserve.”

In a second, related move, UPS also announced a carbon analysis service for its high-volume customers. Under this plan, available only on a contract basis, UPS will calculate the carbon impact of a customer’s entire UPS shipping activity. The calculations then can be used by the shipper to purchase offsets directly or through UPS. The proprietary calculator used for this service also is verified by SGS.

“We believe these steps are important not just for UPS, but also for our customers,” Stoffel noted. “Our global economy depends upon reliable transportation, so we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.”

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson Issues Statement on Lease Extension at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

/PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson yesterday issued the following statement announcing an agreement with the City of Atlanta to extend its lease at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through 2017.

"Delta is pleased to have reached an agreement with the City of Atlanta on a lease extension at Hartsfield-Jackson that will maintain the airport's position as the leading airport in the world and ensure the continued growth of air service in Atlanta.

"Atlanta and Delta are successful because we have worked hand-in-hand for nearly 70 years to distinguish our hometown airport as one known for its convenience, efficiency and competitive costs. We have been fortunate to work with a long line of visionary leaders including Mayors Hartsfield, Young, Jackson and Franklin who understood that Atlanta's economic prosperity and growth is directly tied to Hartsfield-Jackson's more than $20 billion annual economic impact.

"We look forward to working with the city administration and the city council on finalizing the legislation and moving forward with the development of the Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. International Terminal."

The agreement is subject to the finalization of definitive documents and approval by the Atlanta City Council and Delta's Board of Directors.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

SBA Disaster Assistance Available to Private Non-Profit Organizations in Georgia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. Small Business Administration announces certain Private Non-Profit Organizations (PNPs) that do not provide critical services of a governmental nature may be eligible to apply for low-interest rate disaster loans. These loans are available following a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance resulting from damages caused by severe storms and flooding that began on September 18, 2009.

PNPs located in Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Dooly, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Houston, Newton, Peach, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens, Taylor and Walker counties in the state of Georgia are eligible to apply to SBA. Examples of eligible non-critical PNP organizations include, but are not limited to, food kitchens, homeless shelters, museums, libraries, community centers, schools and colleges.

PNP organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The SBA also offers mitigation funds to disaster victims based on 20 percent of the verified physical damage. These funds are designed to help borrowers pay for protective measures to minimize damages of the same kind in the future.

The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs, such as ongoing operating expenses to PNP organizations of all sizes. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 4 percent with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

“PNP organizations are urged to contact their county emergency managers to obtain information about local briefings. At the meeting, PNP representatives will need to provide information about their organization,” said Frank Skaggs, Director of SBA Field Operations Center East.

This information will be used to submit a “Request for Public Assistance” which FEMA uses to determine if the PNP provides an essential governmental service and meets the definition of a “critical facility.” Based upon that conclusion, FEMA will either refer the PNP to SBA for disaster loan assistance or possibly provide a “Public Assistance” reimbursement grant for eligible costs.

Disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing-impaired) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. Also, PNPs may obtain information and application forms by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

PNPs may visit SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ to apply for disaster loans.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is November 25, 2009. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 28, 2010.

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