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State pension reform approaching

From Business Today:


The local business community is getting behind a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's Tier VI pension reform aims to control state employee pension costs and save $123 billion over 30 years by limiting benefits for new hires. Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Heather C. Briccetti, president of the Business Council of New York State, came out in support of the plan Thursday, saying the reform is a good step toward getting the state into better financial shape and making the region more friendly to businesses. But not everyone is happy about it.


Profits slipped at Lake Shore Bancorp during the fourth quarter. The Dunkirk-based parent company of Lake Shore Savings Bank saw profits dip 34 percent. The decline is attributed to a $500,000 write-down for an investment the bank made in an unnamed payment processing startup. Profits were $587,000, or 10 cents per share, down from $895,000, or 16 cents per share,  during the same period last year.


Five Star Bank will eliminate its top executive position in retail banking, a position that paid $426,757 last year. The Warsaw-based Financial Institutions subsidiary attributed the move to improving the company's efficiencies. The duties filled by the former executive vice president of the bank and regional president for the bank's Western Region,John J. Witkowski, will now be doled out to other executives. Witkowski is a former NFL quarterback.



Wegmans has issued a recall of hard-cooked eggs and prepared foods made with them. Eggs sourced at Minnesota-based Michael Foods were found to contain the bacteria that causes listeriosis, which can result in illness and death.

The eggs were sold hard-cooked, pickled and Kosher and also used to make prepared foods. Fresh eggs are not affected.

No illnesses have been reported associated with the recall.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Happy Friday!


Profits and sales are up at Tops, and more stories

From Business Today:


Tops had a "very good" third quarter. Sales and profits were up at Tops Holdings Corp., the Williamsville-based parent of Tops Markets. Inside sales were up by 1.5 percent, to $491 million.

The $7.5 million increase is attributed to a 2.1 percent increase in same-store sales. Frank Curci, Tops president and CEO, said the quarter's numbers show that acquiring 79 bankrupt Penn Traffic Stores last year was a sound strategy.



Matt Quagliano, a former employee of Hunt Real Estate, has lost his latest court battle against his former employer. The State Supreme Court dismissed a case last week that was brought by Quagliano against Hunt, alleging the local realty company tried to smear his good name.

Justice John A. Michalek dismissed the case as without merit. A separate court hearing ordered Quagliano to reimburse Hunt for unpaid advertising and attorney fees. At one time, Quagliano was one of Hunt's most visible realtors.


Steven J. Baum PC has made layoffs at the foreclosure law firm official by filing a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state labor department. A total of 90 employees are scheduled for layoff Feb. 20, 67 of them in Amherst, according to the WARN notice. There is still no word on what will happen to some 600 employees at Pillar Processing, a company that exists solely to process paperwork from the Baum firm.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

What are you doing to prepare for Black Friday?


Buffalo Place concerts a success, UAW hears contract details and Travers Collins expands

From Business Today:


Buffalo Place's summer concert series at the Buffalo waterfront brought in $1.5 million.

That's up 35 percent over what was expected and $405,101 more than its own projections. The success was attributed to its move from Lafayette Square to the Central Wharf and the summer's great weather, as compared to last year's rainy season.


The United Auto Workers Local 774 will meet Monday about an upcoming contract vote. Members will hear the details of a tentative contract the UAW reached with General Motors before they are scheduled to vote on it next week.

GM's Tonawanda plant, which employs 800 workers, is getting a boost from the addition of two new engine lines. The four-year pact would add or keep 6,400 jobs in the U.S. and offer buyouts to longtime workers. Most workers won't get annual pay raises, but will get at least $12,500 in bonuses, profit sharing and other payments over the life of the contract.


 Travers Collins has opened a new office in Rochester. The advertising and public relations firm has parterned with Rochester-based PR veteran Mike McDougall to open McDougall Travers Collins. Collins said he had been wanting to break into the Rochester market for 10 years. He hopes McDougall's local and global contacts will bring new clients from Rochester and around the world.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Today is the first day of fall. Let's celebrate with the Kinks:


New car sales are down, Regional council meets, SEIU 1199 ratifies contract

From Business Today:


New car sales were down in the Buffalo Niagara region last month, but up for the year overall. Car sales declined 7 percent in July from 2010.  Local sales numbers were down to 4,462 from 4,797 a year ago, according to numbers reported by the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association. Overall, new car sales were up 3.4 percent this year from January through July, compared to the same period a year ago.


The public is getting its turn to have a say in local economic development. The Western New York Regional Economic Council is inviting public comment as it comes up with an economic plan for the region in an attempt to secure funds for local improvement.

Members of the five Western New York counties will be able to attend open forums being held next month and can make comments on the council's Web site.

The local council, comprised of 30 local members, met Tuesday at the University at Buffalo's north campus. 


Unionized workers at Gowanda Rehabilitation Nursing Center ratified a three-year contract Monday. The Service Employees International Union Local 1199, representing 125 employees at the nursing home, negotiated a contract calling for a 7 percent raise by June 2013 and increased pension contributions. It also preserves longevity bonuses.


Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Ace Frehley from KISS is back in the New York groove, playing for free tonight at the Hamburg fair:


Investors react to the market, Verizon on strike, and Amherst gets betting call center

From Business Today:


Wall Street reeled after the Dow's biggest one-day point drop since December 2008. But investors here say there is still opportunity for investors, even though stocks will continue to plunge. Thomas S. Quealy, Jr., the chief executive officer at Nottingham Advisors in Amherst, said strong corporate profits, lots of cash in corporate treasuries and reasonable stock valuations can all be counted as positives.


Verizon Communication land line and FiOS workers are out on strike and it is already getting ugly. Verizon is claiming workers have sabotaged work sites around the country, while two picketers here claim a replacement worker hit them with his vehicle when crossing the picket line to enter the company's Amherst offices. The Communications Workers of America Locals 1122,1115 and 1117 as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2213 walked off the job late Saturday night after union and company representatives failed to negotiate a contract. Verizon is seeking concessions on wages, health care, vacation, sick time, work rules and job security. Workers have vowed to do "whatever it takes" to protect their standard of living in the face of the company's record profits.


Western New York is getting yet another call center, this time bringing 60 jobs with it. Churchill Downs Technology Initiatives Co., the company that handles phone betting services for the New York Racing Association, will invest $750,000 to build a call center at 4226 Ridge Lea Road in Amherst. Those 60 jobs had originally been filled by workers in New York City before being outsourced to Oregon.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's still raining out there, huh?


Health insurance costs 'A runaway train'

  Big biz news out front today, and deserves to be:

- 'A runaway train' of soaring costs - Jonathan D. Epstein/The Buffalo News
  If you felt sticker shock when you opened up your health insurance packet from your employer, you were not alone.
  Western New York workers will see their insurance premiums rise by as much as 20 percent next year. And there's no sign of it getting better soon.
   "It's getting worse," said Gregory D. Leifer, director of life insurance and employee benefits at Scott Danahy Naylon Insurance Brokers. "It's a runaway train, and people don't see it ending." ...
  Nationwide, employers expected their health insurance costs to rise by 10.1 percent in 2011, if they made no changes to their plans, but by just 5.9 percent after adjustments, according to a survey by Mercer Health & Benefits. A similar survey by Towers Watson said plan changes would lower the expected increase to 8.2 percent.
   Locally, rates will rise by up to 20 percent for Independent Health and HealthNow and by up to 12.5 percent for Univera. Employers are growing less willing to absorb those increases, as the cost of benefits comprises more than 10 percent of payroll, according to Compdata Surveys. ...

- ‘Obamacare’ not the cause of Colorado rate hikes - Colorado Independent
- Five strategies to tame health care spending - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Why Employers Aren't Rooting for Health Care Reform to Die - The Atlantic
- Why I will stay far away from cliffs from now on - The Huffington Post 
- Nearly 59 million lack health insurance: CDC - Reuters
- Employers plan for hikes in health insurance rates - Rochester Business Journal
- Connecticut Doctors To Oppose Anthem's Proposed Rate Increases - Hartford Courant
- Online information on health insurance rates readily available to Californians - Los Angeles Times

   Not everything's going up:
Mortgage rates again decline to record lows - AP/Buffalo News
   The mortgage rate bar is even lower, but few homebuyers are making the jump.
   Rates on fixed mortgages again fell to their lowest levels in decades this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday, after the Federal Reserve unveiled a massive bond-buying program to help spur economic growth.
   That marked more than a half-year of record lows. But housing activity has still faltered.

- Battle for shoppers' dollars pushes convenience, discounts - AP/Buffalo News
   From Sears stores open on Thanksgiving for the first time to free shipping from Wal-Mart, the battle for holiday shoppers' dollars has begun in earnest. ...
   Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that typically kicks off holiday shopping, is not only being marketed as "Black Friday week," but for a growing number of stores, "Black Friday month."

- Retailers offering early discounts, so late shoppers could lose out - AP/Buffalo News

   Speaking of "sticker shock":


- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Deals: Truckers. Strippers. Glass.

   From the Business Today staff:

Teamsters at YRC Worldwide OK pact - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   Teamsters at YRC Worldwide’s trucking companies have approved extending contract concessions for an additional two years, aimed at helping the trucking giant survive its financial struggles. ...
   The workers agreed to extend a 15 percent pay cut for an additional two years. YRCW will resume partial pension contributions in June 2011; without the change, full pension contributions were supposed to resume in January. ...
   Local workers at YRC and Holland voted 67 percent in favor of the agreement, while local New Penn workers voted 90 percent in favor. They are represented by Teamsters Locals 375 and 449.
   [Union statement here. Company statement with video here.]
ABF Sues YRC Unit, Teamsters Union Over Master Freight Contract - Transport Topics
- YRC Surges On Union Concession Agreement - Barron's 

Rick’s Tally Ho is sold to owner of Tonawanda strip club - Matt Glynn
   The owner of a Town of Tonawanda strip club has acquired Rick’s Tally Ho strip club in Cheektowaga. Tallyho
   David Scrivani bought the property, through a company called 5111 Genesee St. — the address of the club — for $750,000, according to county records.
   Richard A. Snowden, who sold the property through an entity called Rade Holding, declined to disclose the entire value of the transaction, which would be a price reflecting how much the business is worth.
   Scrivani owns Tiffany’s Cabaret at 300 Sawyer Ave., as well as another Tiffany’s in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Snowden said that Rick’s Tally Ho will eventually be renamed Tiffany’s and that Scrivani will apply for a liquor license for the club. The clubs feature semi-nude dancers.
   [No statements with video. This is a family newspaper.] 

- Despite quarter’s 22% profit jump, Corning lags in sales of LCD glass - AP/Buffalo News
  ROCHESTER — Corning Inc. said Monday that its profit jumped by 22 percent in the third quarter, but it missed Wall Street expectations on lower sales of glass for flat-panel televisions.
   Its shares rose despite concerns about weaker retail demand in the United States for liquid-crystal-display TVs. Because of ample supplies, the world’s largest maker of LCD glass said that it expects a more pronounced drop than usual in LCD glass prices in the current quarter.
- Corning - Stalled, Time For The Bears? - TradersHuddle
- Corning Escapes Penalty For Double Whiff - Forbes
Corning Sees Glass Prices Falling - Wall Street Journal

   As we play the Tally Ho off the stage:


   Told you it was a family newspaper.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News