Deere sued over retiree benefits

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- About 5,000 retired workers are suing Deere and Co. for changes to their health benefits plan, saying the agricultural machinery manufacturer broke its promises.

An attorney for the Flex Retirees Organization says in U.S. District Court in Davenport that the retirees thought they and their spouses would have medical benefits for life. Arizona lawyer Daniel Bonnett says evidence shows employees were promised lifetime health care benefits by their supervisors.

An attorney for Deere and Co. says the health plan, implemented on Jan. 1, 2008, was clearly explained to employees, and that the company told its workers that it could amend or change its benefits plan.

The bench trial before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Wolle began Monday, Sept. 21, and is expected to last two weeks.

Rain slows

South's harvest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Recent rains have slowed the pace of harvests in Mississippi and Louisiana to a crawl.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only one day was suitable for field work in Mississippi last week; only two days were suitable in Louisiana. That slowed the pace of cotton harvest to well behind average in both states. The condition of the crop seemed to be holding up, though, with the majority rated in fair or good condition.

Only about half Louisiana's soybeans were harvested, and the agency rated nearly one-quarter of the crop in poor or very poor condition.

Sugarcane planting continued in Louisiana, with 89 percent of the crop in as of Sunday. That was well ahead of the five-year average.

Businesses join

beef plant suit

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) -- Two more businesses have been allowed to join a lawsuit against Northern Beef Packers by businesses that have filed liens against the Aberdeen processing plant for unpaid work.

Iowa-based Structural Engineers and Jensen Rock and Sand of Aberdeen were added to the case Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Scott Olson Digging of Huron earlier filed a $2.1 million lien against the developing plant, prompting Northern Beef Packers to sue the contractor, claiming it was being overcharged. In turn, Scott Olson Digging sued the beef plant for money the company claims it is owed.

In all, more than 15 mechanic's liens totaling more than $13 million have been filed against the beef plant.

Three other businesses previously were allowed to join the lawsuit, and the judge in the case says there likely will be more.

An Oct. 2 deadline has been set for businesses to file liens against the plant.

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