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Labor board plans to pursue two states over union rule

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Labor Relations Board says it will move ahead with lawsuits against Arizona and South Dakota over state constitutional amendments that require secret ballot elections to form unions.

The move comes after weeks of negotiations that failed to reach a settlement between the federal government and attorneys general for the two states.

The agency says the amendments conflict with federal law that gives employers the option to recognize a union if a majority of workers simply sign cards that support unionizing.

Both states say they plan to vigorously defend the changes to their state constitutions approved by voters Nov. 2.

The agency also had threatened to sue South Carolina and Utah over the same issue. Federal officials say they reserve the right to bring those cases later.

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Kimberly-Clark hikes prices

DALLAS (AP) -- Kimberly-Clark Corp., the maker of Huggies and Kleenex, said Monday that it plans to raise prices, its third such announcement since the middle of March.

The company said it's merely passing along the higher prices that it has to pay for raw materials like oil and wood pulp. It also more than doubled its predictions for how much the prices for such commodities will increase.

It's a refrain that's becoming familiar -- and, to budget-conscious shoppers, tired -- this spring. Rising commodities prices are taking center stage at a number of companies, from restaurants to clothing manufactures, who say they have no choice but to pass along those price hikes to customers.

One of Kimberly-Clark's chief rivals, Procter & Gamble Co., said Monday it will raise prices for Pampers diapers, Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels by 3 percent to 7 percent.

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Interest up a bit on T-bills

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills rose slightly in Monday's auction but still hovered close to historic lows.

The Treasury Department auctioned $29 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.065 percent, up from 0.060 percent last week. Another $27 billion was auctioned in six-month bills at a discount rate of 0.115 percent, up from a record low of 0.110 percent last week.

The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,998.36, while a six-month bill sold for $9,994.19. That would equal an annualized rate of 0.066 percent for the three-month bills and 0.117 percent for six-month bills.

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Wright store, new name

A former A.J. Wright location in Niagara Falls has reopened as a T.J. Maxx.

Parent company TJX earlier this year shut all 162 stores in the A.J. Wright chain. But it opted to reopen 91 of them under other banners owned by TJX, following renovations.

The Niagara Falls location, on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Consumer Square, was the only one of the five A.J. Wright stores in the Buffalo Niagara region that TJX reopened under a new banner.

There are now four T.J. Maxx stores in Erie and Niagara counties.

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DirectBuy to reopen

DirectBuy, whose Buffalo-area location abruptly closed its doors in early March, plans to reopen today in the same Cheektowaga location, the company said in an e-mail to customers.

The Genesee Street location was being run by a franchisee when it closed March 3. DirectBuy of Greater Buffalo is reopening as a corporate-operated location, said Mike Georgeff, a spokesman for Indiana-based DirectBuy, a home improvements and furnishings club that members pay to be part of.

DirectBuy plans to convert the location back to a franchisee-owned operation in the "near future," but the company has not set a timetable for that change, Georgeff said.

While the Cheektowaga location was closed, DirectBuy's closest location to Buffalo was in Rochester.

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