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Union deal reached at Butler firm

Just hours before the existing contract expired, Autoline Industries reached an agreement with unionized workers for a new, three-year deal at the Butler plant.

United Electrical Workers Local 735 members voted Saturday to ratify the contract that gives all workers a pay raise. The local represents 90 workers in the factory at 100 Commerce St.

The agreement represents a compromise, said Tim Curtin, a national union representative. The company dropped its request to limit vacation to three weeks a year, and the union dropped its bid to restore a fifth vacation week that the most senior workers surrendered when negotiating the previous contract. Vacation is now capped at four weeks a year.

Autoline’s plant manager couldn’t be reached Monday for comment. The factory supplies General Motors Co.’s Allen County truck assembly plant.

Animal rights protest targets local Walmart

A national non-profit animal rights group has organized a local demonstration for 11 a.m. to noon today outside the Walmart store on Coldwater Road.

Mercy For Animals contends that pork suppliers who raise hogs in crates too small to turn around in are being cruel to the animals and that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. buys from such producers. The nonprofit group previously organized demonstrations in more than 140 cities across the U.S., national campaign coordinator Jeni Haines said. Fort Wayne is one of the largest cities the group has yet to visit.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company is listening closely to customers’ views.

“We hold our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate animal mistreatment,” Molly Philhours said in an email. “We are currently engaged with pork suppliers, food safety experts and other organizations to work towards an industry-wide model that is not only respectful of farmers and animals, but also meets our customers’ expectations for quality and animal safety.”

Retailers including Kroger, McDonald’s and Costco have already pledged not to buy pork from producers who use small gestation crates. Nine U.S. states and the European Union have outlawed their use, according to Mercy For Animals.

Ashley Furniture to relocate store

Ashley Furniture HomeStore is selling its stock to the walls of its 43,000-square-foot showroom as it prepares to move to a new Fort Wayne location, the store’s manager said.

Abby Stieglitz said the store at 311 Coliseum Blvd. E. is closing as the owners look for someplace to buy rather than rent. They expect to announce a new location in August.

Ashley, which specializes in custom-order upholstered furniture, will continue to take orders and deliver furniture during the transition. Items in the close-out sale will be the floor models. The store opened in 2004 in the shopping center formerly occupied by Kmart.

Microsoft slices $150 off Surface tablet price

Microsoft Corp. is slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet by $150 as it fights to increase its tiny share of the booming tablet market.

The cut brings the price of the Surface RT with 32 gigabytes of memory to $349 without a cover. Including a cover with a touch-sensitive keyboard, the device comes to $449.