Business in brief: Itron’s new deal one of its largest

Itron Inc. of Liberty Lake has signed a roughly $100 million contract to supply electricity and gas metering equipment to two utilities, the company announced Tuesday.

The company will provide about 1.2 million of its Centron electricity meters and 700,000 gas automated meter reading modules to subsidiaries of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, according to an Itron news release.

“This is one of our largest contracts,” said Itron spokeswoman Deloris Duquette.

Rocky Mountain Power will replace electromechanical meters with Itron’s digital meters in Utah beginning in August, according to the release. MidAmerican Energy Company will use Itron electricity and gas metering devices in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“Their technology allows our operating companies to standardize on a common platform, and Itron’s proven technology will reduce our operating costs,” Greg Abel, president of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, said in a prepared statement.


Meat workers to unionize

Meat department employees at two Trading Company Stores in Spokane County recently voted to unionize, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The action adds 10 members to the UFCW Local 1439, based in Spokane. Approximately 2,000 local grocery store employees are already represented by the organization.

New members include butchers, meat packers and meat service counter workers at Trading Company’s Latah store, off U.S. Highway 195 in south Spokane, and the Spokane Valley store at Sprague Avenue and McDonald Road, a UCFW news release said.

Linda Gruen, the local’s organizing director, said the union’s bargaining team is about to begin negotiations on a new contract for its newest members at the chain’s two Spokane-area stores. Union representatives will be seeking employee pensions, mostly funded by employers; higher salaries and more affordable health care insurance for its newest members, Gruen said.

The employees of Trading Company’s Cheney store already belong to the union but workers at two sister stores in Idaho do not, she said.

Gary Morgan co-owns Bonner Foods Inc., which operates the stores. He said he received notification Tuesday of the union’s desire to begin talks. But he said it’s too early in the process to know what issues may be on the table.

The grocery stores, formerly known as Tidyman’s, were purchased in 2006 by Bonner Foods. Former executives of Tidyman’s were accused of draining $14 million from the employee retirement account in a federal lawsuit filed in January. The former executives have denied any mishandling of funds in previous news accounts. No trial date has been set.

From staff reports


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