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U.S. opens $3 billion aviation manufacturing wage subsidy program


A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department said Tuesday it had launched a $3 billion aviation manufacturing payroll subsidy program that will cover up to half of eligible companies’ compensation costs for as long as six months.

The program, funded by Congress, requires companies to commit to not conducting furloughs without employee consent or laying off employees covered by subsidies during the six-month period. Applications must be filed by July 13.

Companies eligible include aircraft, engine, propeller or component manufacturers and companies that repair or overhaul airplanes and parts.

The subsidy program cannot cover more than 25% of an employer’s total U.S. workforce as of April 2020 and can only cover employees with total annual compensation of $200,000 or less.

To qualify, a company must have involuntarily furloughed or laid off at least 10% of its total workforce, or have experienced at least a 15% decline in 2020 total operating revenues.

More than 100,000 jobs have been lost in the aerospace industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Transportation Department. Before then, the U.S. aerospace industry was estimated to employ approximately 2.2 million workers, including 1.2 million who worked in various parts of the supply chain nationwide.

Boeing Co (BA.N), which has had extensive job cuts, Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) and Spirit Aerosystems (SPR.N) did not immediately respond to questions about whether they are considering applying. General Electric’s (GE.N) aviation unit said it would not seek assistance from the program.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers had strongly urged Congress to fund the program.

Congress has provided assistance to other aviation industry firms, including giving U.S. airlines $54 billion for payroll since March 2020 and that funding will continue to pay much of airline workers’ salaries through Sept. 30.

Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Future

U.S. judge rejects Bayer’s $2 bln deal to resolve future Roundup lawsuits


Monsanto Co’s Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A U.S. judge rejected Bayer’s $2 billion class action proposal to resolve future lawsuits alleging its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, saying in a Wednesday order that parts of the plan were “clearly unreasonable.”

Bayer (BAYGn.DE) has committed up to $9.6 billion to resolve some 125,000 existing claims linking Roundup to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The proposed class action settlement was aimed at claims by people who have been exposed to the weedkiller and who become sick in the future.

Bayer has said that decades of studies have shown that Roundup and its main active ingredient glyphosate are safe for human use. Bayer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the proposal “would accomplish a lot for Monsanto,” which Bayer acquired for $63 billion in 2018, and “would accomplish far less for the Roundup users” who are currently healthy.

Chhabria had outlined his doubts about the plan in a hearing last week. read more

The plan would have grouped potentially millions of residential users and farm laborers in a class and provided them free medical exams for four years and up to $200,000 if they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Future

India’s opposition sees hope for the future in Modi’s state election defeat


Supporters of Chief Minister of West Bengal state and the Chief of Trinamool Congress (TMC) Mamata Banerjee celebrate after the initial poll results, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, India, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Indian opposition parties and political commentators cheered the election victory of a regional leader over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party in a big battleground state as a sign his populist sway could be checked.

Sunday’s defeat came as Modi is being slammed publicly for failing to tackle India’s explosive spike in coronavirus infections that has left the country in deep crisis, with hospital and crematoriums swamped and people dying for lack of oxygen.

Modi addressed dozens of political rallies in the state of West Bengal hoping to widen the appeal of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the east of the country from its traditional northern and western strongholds.

But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who ran the campaign for her regional party from a wheelchair because of a fall at a rally, won a two-thirds victory, raising opposition hopes Modi could be challenged across the country.

“What Bengal does today, India does tomorrow,” columnist Shobhaa De wrote in The Print, paraphrasing a quotation by 19th century liberal Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

“What happened in West Bengal is just the beginning.”

Prashant Kishor, a political strategist for Banerjee, said: “The election result has given voice and hope to those who want to fight this danger called BJP.”

The Shiv Sena, another regional group that controls the western state of Maharashtra that includes Mumbai, said that the election result was a personal defeat for Modi because he put everything on the line and ignored the health crisis.

“Instead of tackling the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the entire central government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was in the poll arena of West Bengal to defeat (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee,” it said.

IRON GRIP

Modi has held an iron grip on Indian politics since sweeping to power in 2014 and winning a bigger victory in the 2019 national election on the back of a strong Hindu ideology.

Until now there has been no challenger and with the main opposition Congress party unable to get its act together, Modi has been expected to win the 2024 national poll.

But images of people dying from COVID-19 in hospital parking lots and corridors because of lack of beds, hospitals themselves begging for life saving oxygen supplies and overflowing crematoriums have shaken the public mood, opinion polls show.

Confidence in the government’s handling of the crisis has plummeted since February when the second wave of infections started, according to a survey among urban Indians by polling agency YouGov.

From 89% saying the government has handled the Covid issue ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ well in April 2020, this number has declined to 59% at the end of April 2021, the latest data from YouGov’s Covid-19 Public Monitor showed.

Covid is fanning a growing anger against the federal government, said political commentator Neerja Chowdhury.

“People are not likely to forget the shortage of hospital beds, oxygen and vaccines in a hurry. They are also unlikely to forget in a hurry that the BJP’s central leadership made winning Bengal its life and death battle, when there is a real life and death struggle on in the country.”

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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