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Boston and Beyond

September 23, 2012

In Brief

Janitors authorize reps to call strike

BOSTON — Hundreds of unionized Massachusetts janitors have voted to authorize a committee negotiating a new contract with their employers to call a strike.

The vote yesterday comes as their contract is set to expire at month’s end. Janitors complain that employers offer them as few as 18 hours a week, a move that prevents them from qualifying as fulltime workers and deny them access to insurance provided by employers.

About 1,400 janitors represented by Local 615 of the Service Employees International Union voted yesterday by a standing vote to authorize a strike. The union cited reports of workers being met with illegal threats and intimidation.

The Local 615 of the SEIU represents 18,000 property service workers — including 14,000 janitors — in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The union says more fulltime jobs creates stronger economies.

Officials warn of peanut butter risk

BOSTON — Massachusetts and Rhode Island health officials say a peanut butter product is being tested for a possible link to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened people in other states.

The health departments said Friday three cases have occurred in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island. They say 29 have been reported nationwide since June 11, and they’re investigating along with other states and federal health officials.

The officials said the outbreak may be linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter Made with Sea Salt, in 16-ounce containers with “use by” dates of 5/23/2013 and 6/28/2013.

No samples have tested positive for the strain of salmonella involved, but the company has voluntarily removed it from stores. Consumers are advised to discard it. Health officials say some independent online sites may still be selling it.

Record bear hunting season likely in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine hunting guides are telling state game officials that 2012 will go down in the record books as one of the best years ever to hunt bears in the state.

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