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story.lead_photo.caption In this Feb. 6, 2017, photo, workers assemble cars at the Dongfeng Honda automotive plant in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. China's auto sales shrank by 5.3 percent in July 2018 from a year earlier as SUV demand sagged, adding to signs of economic malaise amid a tariff battle with Washington. (Chinatopix via AP)

5th suit filed in EPA mine waste spill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A fifth lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a mine waste spill that the agency inadvertently triggered in 2015, polluting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 3 in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., by 295 Navajo farmers and ranchers.

The lawsuit says farmers and ranchers lost crops and livestock, and had to pay to haul clean water because the spill prevented them from using water from the polluted rivers.

The EPA referred questions to Department of Justice officials, who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Other defendants include eight companies and subsidiaries that were involved in mining in the area or worked for the EPA.

An EPA-led contractor crew was doing excavation work at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado in August 2015 when it accidentally breached a debris pile that was holding back wastewater inside the mine.

An estimated 3 million gallons of wastewater poured out, carrying nearly 540 tons of metals, mostly iron and aluminum.

-- The Associated Press

China auto sales fall as demand cools

BEIJING -- China's auto sales shrank in July from a year earlier as SUV demand sagged, an industry group reported Friday, adding to signs of economic malaise amid a tariff battle with Washington.

Sales of sedans, SUVs and minivans fell 5.3 percent from a year ago to 1.6 million in the biggest global auto market, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, fell 4 percent to 1.9 million.

Auto demand has cooled amid forecasts of an economic downturn after Beijing tightened controls on bank lending to cool surging debt.

China's mounting tariff fight with U.S. President Donald Trump over Chinese technology policy has added to anxiety, though the economic impact so far is limited.

Beijing imposed 25 percent import duties on U.S.-made autos as part of its retaliation for a similar American increase. But that falls most heavily on BMW AG's imports of SUVs from a South Carolina factory. American brands produce most of their vehicles in Chinese factories.

Weak demand is a setback for global automakers that look to China to drive revenue and are spending heavily to develop models for local tastes.

-- The Associated Press

U.S. says farm lax in care of workers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Florida company kept more than 100 temporary farm workers in "inhumane" and "unsanitary" working conditions while not paying them what they were due as they harvested watermelons in southeast Missouri, according to federal labor officials.

The U.S. Labor Department issued a preliminary injunction against Marin J Corp. of Avon Park, Fla., after witnessing conditions for 107 workers hired under the federal H-2A program, which allows foreign workers into the U.S. for temporary agriculture work, The Kansas City Star reported.

The company, owned by Jorge Marin, was responsible for housing, feeding and caring for the workers in Kennett, Mo., about 75 miles north of Memphis. The workers began in June and were to be paid $13.42 an hour, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The company said in a statement that the H-2A program has many complex requirements that are substantially different to the rules for other employers. It said Marin J is cooperating with the investigation and is working to comply with requirements.

While employees worked 12-hour days harvesting watermelons, they generally shared a Gatorade bottle for water, and several workers "passed out from the heat due to dehydration," the inspector wrote. Washing and restroom facilities were "rarely provided" in the field and "workers frequently relieved themselves in the fields, without washing their hands," according to the affidavit.

Workers also "remain largely unpaid," and many have significant food bills, it said.

-- The Associated Press

N.C. town picked for Amazon center

GARNER, N.C. -- A North Carolina town will be the site of a new Amazon distribution center that officials say will lead to hundreds of millions in investment and the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.

State and local officials announced Friday that Garner, a Raleigh suburb, will be home to a new distribution center for the Seattle-based Web retailer. They say it will create 1,500 jobs and $45 million annually in payroll for the workers.

The four-story, 2.6 million-square-foot distribution center will be built on the site of a former ConAgra Foods plant. The site was donated to local economic development authorities in 2012. Garner officials say the move is the result of seven years of searching for a suitable company to develop the site.

-- The Associated Press

Innocent pleas entered in mine fraud

OWENSBORO, Ky. -- Eight former supervisors and safety officers at a Kentucky coal company have pleaded innocent in federal court to allegations that they rigged dust monitoring in underground mines.

The eight officials at Armstrong Coal were arraigned this week in Owensboro and Bowling Green. An indictment alleges that company officials ordered workers to remove dust sampling equipment and place it in clean air portions of the mine to get desirable readings.

The indictment says the alleged offenses happened at Armstrong's Parkway and Kronos mines between 2013 and 2015.

Charley Barber, the former superintendent of Parkway mine in Muhlenberg County, had a separate arraignment Thursday in Bowling Green. The other defendants appeared before a judge earlier in the week.

A judge set a trial date for Oct. 3.

-- The Associated Press

Ex-workers' suit alleges Nike pay gap

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Four women who used to work for Nike filed a federal lawsuit alleging the company violated state and U.S. equal-pay laws and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment.

The suit filed Thursday in Portland, Ore., is among the first to hit the company since complaints about pay and bad managers became public earlier this year, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Nike, based near Portland, responded to the controversy by ousting at least 11 executives earlier this year.

However, attorney Laura Salerno Owens, who filed the lawsuit, said Nike continues to have a "good-old-boy's culture" in which women enter the company with lower pay and receive smaller raises and bonuses.

"I think Nike wants to say that 'Just a couple people were responsible for the problem and we've gotten rid of them.' But we know that's certainly not the case," Owens said.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and a court order requiring Nike to pay its employees fairly without regard to gender.

Nike officials declined to comment on the lawsuit to The Oregonian and did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 08/11/2018

Print Headline: Business news in brief

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