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Under fire. On strike. Below $3.

   New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo took a break from his campaign for governor [or maybe not] by announcing another strike in his ongoing crack-down on unscrupulous debt collectors who seem to thrive in the Buffalo area.
- State tries to close 2 local debt collectors - Dan Herbeck/The Buffalo News
   State attorneys filed lawsuits Tuesday against two Hamburg-based debt-collection companies whose Cuomo employees allegedly used threats, obscenities and harsh intimidation tactics against consumers.
   The legal actions seek to permanently shut down two companies — Northern Asset Management and Eastern Asset Management — owned by Hamburg businessman Frank Santiago.
   There are clear laws that say how a debt-collection company can do business, and we allege that this debt collector and his companies broke those laws,” Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
   "Threats, intimidation, obscene language and overt harassment are just some of the day-to-day business practices that were employed by this operation. Their actions must come to an end.” ...
   Santiago denied Cuomo’s allegations.

   Meanwhile, also in Business Today:
- Red Cross workers here to strike - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   Unionized workers for the American Red Cross Blood Services Division in Buffalo are set to go on strike today.
   The walkout will involve about 100 area workers who collect, process and distribute blood, said James Wagner, president of Local 1122, Communications Workers of America. Another 60 tele-recruiters who recruit blood donors will not join the strike for fear their work would be moved immediately to Rochester, he said. Wagner had initially said that group would join the strike....
   “It is to protest over the National Labor Relations Board complaints issued against the Red Cross in violation of labor law,” Wagner said.
   The CWA is launching the strike based on unfair-labor practices related to changes in the workers’ 401(k) retirement plan, pension, health benefits and the suspension of a chief steward, Wagner said. The union also has raised complaints about blood safety. Wagner said the criticisms are aimed at the American Red Cross, not its Buffalo chapter.
   Despite the strike, Red Cross operations in the Buffalo area will continue, said Marianne Schreyer, spokeswoman for American Red Cross Blood Services in the New York-Pennsylvania region

- Falling gas prices good news for drivers - Mark Williams/AP/Buffalo News
   Gasoline prices dropped Tuesday for the 26th straight day as lower oil prices continue to work their way to the nation’s drivers. It looks like there is room for pump prices to move even lower. [They have today already.]
   After hitting a national average of $2.929 per gallon May 6, retail gasoline prices have fallen 20.2 cents, or nearly 7 percent, to $2.727 per gallon Tuesday.
   In the
Buffalo Niagara region, a gallon of regular averaged $2.94 Tuesday, down 4 cents from a week ago, and down 6 cents from a month ago.
   Tom Kloza, of the
Oil Price Information Service, said that while the daily streak of lower prices is likely to end before mid-June, prices still have another 10 or 12 cents to fall.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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