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"The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area" (http://triad.bizjournals.com) ran a March 31st article, "Furniture retailers look for mortgage tie-in" that discussed a new phenominon in the industry --- using home equity loans to finance furniture purchases. "The latest idea for tapping into that pool:," the article notes, is a "furniture-upgrade option" attached to newly originated home mortgages. ____________________ Kyodo News (http://asia.news.yahoo.com/060404/kyodo/d8gp464g0.html) reported that about 3,000 Guangdong furniture factory workers staged a protest and that hundreds of riot police were called in to keep the protesters from entering a guest house where state leaders often meet. The article contains an interview with one of the protesters who noted that, "the average monthly wage is only around 1,000 yuan ($124), while they have to work 12 hours a day, without payment for overtime, and with only two days off every month. Only one of 200 workers can take a break at any one time, and those who take a break without the permit face a fine of 10 to 20 yuan and could be beaten up by supervisor." This comes at a time when China is facing a labor shortage and factories are raising salaries, starting to improve working conditions and starting to offer benefits. ____________________ The Galax Gazette (Galax, VA) http://www.galaxgazette.com reported that the U.S. Department of Labor has approved Vaughan Furniture's application for extended benefits to employees recently laid off due to plant consolidations. ____________________

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