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Meijer to provide free gift cards to Midwest families in need

BY Allison Cerra

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. As an increasing number of people turn to local food banks to help feed their families this year, supercenter chain Meijer announced Monday that it will provide thousands of free Meijer gift cards directly to families in need through local food pantries.

The new program is in addition to Meijer’s Simply Give program, which raises money to help local food pantries re-stock their shelves.

“As unemployment has risen, there are a greater number of people relying on our local food banks,” said Hank Meijer, co-chairman and CEO of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. “In addition to helping the food pantries stock their shelves, we also want to help families obtain items that are generally not available at food pantries, such as perishable foods or items for those with special dietary needs.”

Each Meijer store will provide 100 free gift cards, each valued at $10, to a local food pantry to distribute to needy families. Each of the 18,900 gift cards donated by the company will be accompanied by a letter from Co-Chairmen Hank and Doug Meijer.

This program comes on the heels of Meijer’s successful Simply Give program, where the company partnered with its customers to generate gift cards for food pantries to use to stock their shelves. To date, Meijer and its customers have raised more than $500,000 for local food pantries throughout the Midwest.

Meijer donates more than 6% of its net profit annually to a broad group of charities and organizations throughout the five states where its stores are located. The Simply Give program drills down even deeper by ensuring the benefit is recognized in the very communities where Meijer stores are located.

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Report: Card-check provision removed from Employee Free Choice Act

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The New York Times on Friday reported that the “card-check provision” — which would have required employers to recognize a union as soon as a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union as opposed to a secret-ballot election — has been removed from the Employee Free Choice Act in an effort to secure enough Democratic votes to avoid a filibuster.

It was a polarizing issue — the card-check provision was advocated by union organizations because it would have made it easier to unionize a workforce. In its place, several Senate and labor officials told the New York Times, the revised bill would require shorter unionization campaigns and faster elections — with elections to be held within two work-weeks after 30% of a workforce signed cards favoring unionization.

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Gilead enters partnership with Tibotec to develop HIV drug

BY Allison Cerra

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences said it entered a partnership with Tibotec Pharmaceuticals to develop a single daily antiretroviral HIV pill.

The proposed drug would combine Gilead’s Truvada with a drug Tibotec is developing called TMC278, or rilpivirine. Terms were not disclosed, but Gilead said it would take the lead in manufacturing and testing the combined drug, working to get it approved by regulators, and selling it.

Gilead said the product would be the second complete antiretroviral treatment for HIV available in one pill. The first is Gilead’s Atripla, which combines three HIV drugs. The company said the combined pills make treatment simpler for patients.

Tibotec, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, would be responsible for developing rilpivirine as a standalone drug.

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