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Maine governor opens the green gates

BY HBSDealer Staff

Maine is the latest battleground among competing “green” forest certification groups.

Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order in December directing that “any new or expanded state buildings shall incorporate ‘Green Building’ standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), American Tree Farm System and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems.”

FSC is the only system allowed in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating, a rule that rankles competing groups.

What could be more fair than a level playing field? Well, before you could say, “timber,” voices from the environmental industry fired with both barrels.

“Gov. LePage’s executive order is deceptive and potentially undermines the health and long-term sustainability of Maine’s forests,” said Karen Woodsum, program director of the Maine Woods Campaign of the Sierra Club. Or this one from the National Resource Defense Council’s Sami Yassa: “By moving the state’s emerging green-building economy backwards, LePage is attacking one of the bright spots in the economy right now. His support of unsustainable forestry defies the interests of his citizens and common sense.”

In support of the governor, the SFI fired back against the current rules that give green preference to FSC wood offshore over SFI-certified wood in North America. “This policy is great news for North American communities,” said Kathy Abusow, SFI CEO.

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At Sears, experienced merchant gets to work

BY HBSDealer Staff

When Sears hired Lou D’Ambrosio as CEO, some analysts raised questions about his lack of retail experience. Come what may for the struggling retail giant, there will be no similar questions about its latest hire, Ron Boire.

Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears hired Boire as its executive VP and chief merchandising officer to oversee merchandising and retail stores for Sears and Kmart brands. Boire is the former president and CEO of the upscale, mall staple Brookstone. Before that, Boire was president, U.S. Toys, North America for Toys “R” Us, overseeing merchandising, marketing and operations for 600 stores in the United States. Also on his resume is an executive role at Best Buy.

An experienced hand is a much-needed tool for Sears in 2012, which announced plans to close 100 to 120 stores after a softer-than-expected holiday sales season. All hands are on deck to transform the company into a multichannel and digital retailing leader.

In a prepared statement, Boire said all the right things: “I understand the company’s challenges, but I am more persuaded by the company’s opportunities and strengths.”

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D.C. Hotline: NLBMDA opposes “ambush” union elections

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) condemned the new “ambush election” union rule issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which creates unprecedented and sweeping changes to union election rules in the workplace at the expense of small business owners. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, of which NLBMDA is a member, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce immediately filed suit in federal court to stop the rule’s implementation.

“When it became clear that organized labor’s agenda to impose sweeping changes to labor law through the proposed card check legislation had failed in Congress, the NLRB delivered an early Christmas gift to its union allies by finalizing the ambush election law,” said NLBMDA president Michael O’Brien. “The law’s only purpose is to make it easier for unions to win elections at the expense of the free speech rights of business owners.”

The lawsuit, Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. NLRB, has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It challenges the new rule’s requirements that speed up union election process, restrict how employers can communicate with their employees about the impact of unionization, and curbs the rights of employers to challenge proposed representation elections.

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