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Jack Welch quits Fortune over backlash; Employers recognized for National Guard support

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Ex-GE CEO Welch leaves Fortune after backlash

Jack Welch, the former chief executive officer of General Electric Co., will stop writing for Thomson Reuters Corp. and Fortune magazine as a result of backlash to his Twitter post suggesting President Obama's administration manipulated employment data for political gain. Welch sent an e-mail to Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler and Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer saying he and his wife, Suzy, were terminating their contract and would no longer contribute to Reuters or Fortune. The print title had agreed to pick up the column. A Reuters spokeswoman, Barb Burg, confirmed Welch was leaving. The move occurred over criticism by Serwer of Welch's comments on the Oct. 5 unemployment report and a Reuters story quoting a money manager who described Welch's statements as laughable, Fortune said. Obama's administration denounced Welch's claims as baseless. Welch said he and his wife were planning a piece in the Wall Street Journal, according to the e-mail. Welch declined to comment further.

Employers recognized for National Guard support

More than 70 area employers were to be recognized in Oakland Tuesday night for their support for members of the National Guard and Reserve. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and the Reserve, or ESGR, chose the employers based on feedback from National Guardsmen and Reservists and were to honor those employers at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum. Among the employers being honored are Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc., Duquesne University, PNC Bank, Thermo Fisher Scientific and U.S. Steel Corp. For information on how to participate in ESGR programs, call 800-336-4590, or visit www.esgr.mil.

Wal-Mart tests same-day delivery for holidays

Wal-Mart is testing a same-day delivery service in select markets for customers who buy popular items online during the holiday shopping season. The move is announced as the world's largest retailer faces increasing competition from online giants like Amazon.com., which is testing same-day delivery service in 10 markets. About 5,000 general merchandise items will be available for same-day shipping. The delivery charge is $10 for an unlimited number of items.

Health changes spur test of more part-time workers

The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting the impact of looming health coverage requirements. Darden Restaurants Inc. declined to give details but said the test is only in restaurants in four markets across the country. The test entails increasing the number of workers on part-time status, meaning they work less than 30 hours a week. Under the new health care act, companies will be required to provide health care to full-time employees by 2014. That would significantly boost labor costs for businesses. About 75 percent of Darden's employees are part-timers.

URA to consider sale of Downtown buildings

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation's effort to purchase buildings at 420 Wood St. and 422 Wood St., Downtown, initally reported in April, may finally occur if the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh approves the sale at its Thursday meeting. According to the URA, the developer — Landmarks Financial Corp. which is part of the Foundation — wants to rehabilitate the first floor of the two buildings for a single retail tenant. There would be apartments and/or office space added to the upper floors at a later date. The purchase price for the two vacant buildings would be $500,000 and the redevelopment costs are estimated at $618,387. Funding for the restoration work would be under state façade funds.

Other business news

• Two companies based near Pittsburgh International Airport, FedEx Ground Package System Inc. and Air Ground Xpress Inc., won SmartWay Excellence Awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for their efficiency in moving goods. The EPA honored a total 40 freight companies that save fuel and lessen emissions through efficient operations.

• Tool maker Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is selling its hardware and home-improvement business to Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. for $1.4 billion in cash. The hardware and home-improvement unit makes locksets, hardware and faucets for residential use and includes brands such as Pfister, Baldwin and Kwikset.

— Staff and wire reports

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