In the Region
Maryland drivers for Laidlaw vote to join AFSCME
Maryland bus drivers for Laidlaw Transit Inc. have voted to organize under the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union official said yesterday. The workers voted 64-43 for the union on Tuesday.
The new chapter will have 130 members who drive buses or work as bus attendants in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties. About 36 of them work in Howard County. according to the union. Laidlaw has contracts to provide bus service to county school systems and shuttle service at the Johns Hopkins University.
If Laidlaw does not contest the election, which AFSCME officials say they do not expect, the union will begin negotiating a contract with the company within a few weeks. The employees' top concerns during the organization drive were pay and health benefits.
PelicanMobile wins pact for 200 police computers
PelicanMobile Computers Inc. of Baltimore said yesterday it has won a $1.9 million contract to supply "ruggedized" laptop computers for Baltimore's police cruisers.
The 200 laptops will be enough to place one in each of the city's marked police cars. Previously, only about one-quarter of cruisers were equipped with laptops, and the department was not happy with the way they operated. The new machines will allow police officers to write reports without returning to the station.
PelicanMobile, founded in 1997, has also supplied equipment to state and Howard County police.
Community colleges, GBA sign training agreement
Community colleges in the greater Baltimore area are poised to be business training centers for the region under a new agreement signed yesterday with the Greater Baltimore Alliance.
The agreement calls for GBA to guide businesses looking for training options to community colleges in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties and Baltimore City.
The announcement comes two weeks after Maryland Community College's Business Training Network launched a Web site at marylandtraining.com that links businesses with training courses for all 16 Maryland community colleges.
Virco Lab is acquiring SRA Life Sciences
Virco Lab Inc. said yesterday that it is acquiring SRA Life Sciences Inc., which has labs in Rockville and headquarters in Falls Church, Va.
Virco Lab, on the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus, is the U.S. subsidiary of Belgium-based Virco Group. It specializes in HIV drug resistance testing and cancer research.
SRA, which has 55 employees, is a contract research and molecular diagnostic company. Terms were not disclosed.
U.S. to scrutinize GE's attempt to purchase Honeywell
The Justice Department will scrutinize the planned $45 billion purchase of Honeywell International Inc. by General Electric Co., but GE Chairman Jack Welch said the company does not foresee any problems.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that antitrust officials will likely file a "second request" for information, a signal that the deal faces tough review. But the newspaper quoted sources close to the review as saying an initial evaluation by a Defense Department task force did not identify any major competitive issues.
The department is expected to focus on a handful of narrow markets for parts such as auxiliary power units and jet-engine controls, and may also want assurances that the companies won't "bundle" their products - requiring GE jet engine customers to buy Honeywell avionics, for example.
Expanded ING plans cross-selling of products
A day after completing its acquisition of Aetna Inc.'s international and financial services businesses, ING Group said it plans to begin aggressively cross-selling its products with an eye toward increasing its presence in North and South America.
With the Aetna purchase and the recently completed acquisition of ReliaStar Financial Corp., ING has become one of the 10 largest financial services providers in the United States. Executives said yesterday that they plan to use the combined companies' market strengths to sell products from one division to customers of another - selling mutual funds, for example, to retirement fund customers and vice versa.
ING, a Dutch conglomerate, plans a $50 million campaign to build its brand identity in the Americas and will shift the acquired products to a single brand in the next 18 months.
Xerox selling some assets in Asia to Fuji Xerox
Xerox Corp. is selling its manufacturing, sales and service operations in China and Hong Kong to Fuji Xerox Co. as it cuts costs and raises cash through asset sales.
Xerox, which reported a third-quarter loss and has slashed jobs and expenses, said yesterday that it expects the $550 million sale to close later this month.
Fuji Xerox, jointly owned by Fuji Photo Film Co. and Xerox, has about 30,000 employees in Asia.
S&P lowers ratings of strapped Vlasic Foods