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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Honda adds vehicles to air bag repair list

From Wire Reports

DETROIT – Honda plans to replace the driver’s air bag inflators on 2.6 million more vehicles as it expands repairs to the entire U.S.

The Japanese automaker is the only company to comply with the demand from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to do repairs nationwide. Honda says it’s doing so to address customer concerns.

Air bags made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. can inflate with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel. At least five people have died due to the problem.

Last week, a top Honda executive told a U.S. House subcommittee during a hearing that his company would expand the driver’s side repairs nationwide. Honda isn’t calling it a recall, though, and is maintaining that the driver’s air bag inflators are not defective.

Affected vehicles include the 2001 to 2007 four-cylinder Honda Accord, 2001 and 2002 V6 Accord, 2001 to 2005 Honda Civic, 2002 to 2006 Honda CR-V, 2003 to 2011 Honda Element, 2002 to 2004 Honda Odyssey, 2003 to 2007 Honda Pilot, 2006 Honda Ridgeline, 2003 to 2006 Acura MDX, 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, and the 2002 Acura CL.

UAW reaches top tier of VW labor policy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The United Auto Workers on Monday qualified for the top tier of a new labor policy at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, giving the union its first formal role within a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.

Volkswagen said an independent auditor had verified that the UAW’s Local 42 had signed up at least 45 percent of workers at the Chattanooga plant. That will entitle the union to biweekly discussions with managers and to frequent access to the plant for meetings, notices and other organizing activity.

While the policy doesn’t address collective bargaining, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel called it a “starting point” for achieving that goal at the plant, where he said the union already represents more than half the workers.

French Toast Crunch returning to shelves

PORTLAND – General Mills said Monday it is bringing back popular ’90s cereal French Toast Crunch in a nod to nostalgia.

The food maker said the move is purely a response to consumer demand, but it comes as General Mills and other cereal makers are coping with weaker cereal sales due to changing consumer tastes.

Cereal sales have slid as alternatives such as Greek yogurt and breakfast sandwiches have gained popularity.

The company has tweaked other parts of its cereal lineup recently in an attempt to boost sales. It gave Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal a stronger cinnamon taste, made Cheerios without genetically modified ingredients and released a new line of Cheerios with added protein.

General Mills said French Toast Crunch, which was discontinued in 2006, is its most requested cereal for re-release. It said calls come in almost daily to request its return and thousands of people signed an online petition. A Facebook page dedicated to the matter has nearly 9,000 followers.

General Mills said it has made a few modifications to the cereal, including reducing the sugar and increasing the whole grains.

General Mills said French Toast Crunch is now a permanent part of its lineup and will be in some stores this month, with a complete national rollout in January.

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