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A year of tempered market expectations, bigger multinationals, taller wood buildings

Three developments tracked since January stand out at year’s end: 1) overall concrete shipments did not pace projected level; 2) among global operators, the annual revenue bar for cement, aggregate and ready mixed concrete shipments is moving from the $10 billion–$15 billion to $15 billion–$20 billion range, with the top players deriving about 20–25 percent of sales in North America; and, 3) U.S. and Canadian wood interests’ multi-story building market pursuits are reverberating among ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers.

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A little dirt on the Clean Power Plan

Environmental Protection Agency aggression fostered an unlikely contingent seeking federal court relief: The American Iron & Steel Institute and American Wood Council joined Portland Cement Association, Brick Industry Association, National Lime Association and 13 other business or industry groups late last month in a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) legal effort to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Through it, the EPA seeks sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions—32 percent by 2030 against 2005 level baseline—from utilities and energy-intensive operations.

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Facebook posts, text message damage accident-prone driver’s discharge claim

The Environmental Protection Agency will be remembered as a favored tool for President Obama to wield his brand of executive authority, most recently demonstrated in sweeping Clean Power Plan (note page 8) and Waters of the U.S. proposals sure to cost consumers and business what critics estimate will be tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars. Right behind the EPA will be the National Labor Relations Board, which has indulged a union-friendly White House through such measures as a rule mandating workplace display of posters detailing employees’ rights to representation; adoption of representation case procedures enabling “ambush” elections; and, reinterpretation of long-held standards for what constitutes a bargaining unit.

Read more: Facebook posts, text message damage accident-prone driver’s discharge claim

Second Amendment meets NLRA at Ready Mix USA bargaining table

The account here last month of an accident-prone building materials truck driver who commanded the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel’s attention pales against the outcome of a complaint NLRB Administrative Law Judge David Goldman weighed in a mid-September decision.

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Teachable moments, cautionary tales from FTC Lafarge, Holcim review file

Last month’s merger forming LafargeHolcim Ltd. expedited transfer of more than $1 billion in cement, concrete and aggregate production and distribution assets in the U.S. and Canada. The Federal Trade Commission justified a decision and order on the sale of those properties per Section 7 of the Clayton Act, a century-old law augmenting the Sherman Act of 1890. It prohibits mergers if “in any line of commerce or in any activity affecting commerce in any section of the country, the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly,” FTC notes.

 

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