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TALKING POINTS

Custodians at Harvard agree to 15.25% pay raise

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

LABOR

Custodians at Harvard agree to 15.25% pay raise

Custodians at Harvard University approved a new contract last week, ushering in a 15.25 percent pay raise over the next four years, according to 32BJ SEIU, which represents the workers. The agreement, which also provides higher pay for snow removal and furniture moving, covers 700 janitors — 400 employed by Harvard, 300 by contractors. The first step of the raise is a 2.75 percent hike retroactive to Nov. 16, followed by a 3 percent bump in July. “The essential custodians at Harvard should be extremely proud of themselves for reaching this strong contract during such uncertain times,” Roxana Rivera, executive vice president of 32BJ SEIU, said in a statement. “They were only able to achieve this victory by standing together with each other and with supportive elected leaders, students, and other union workers to demand that Harvard offer nothing less than the family-sustaining raises and protections they need and deserve.” Custodians’ starting pay is currently $24.67 an hour. 32BJ also represents 300 security officers on campus, who are still bargaining for a new contract. The custodians have come a long way since June of 2020, when Harvard informed the union it was laying off half of them, along with a fifth of the union security officers. The union pushed back, and Harvard agreed to keep them all on, along with the dining hall workers. — KATIE JOHNSTON

HOUSING

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Las Vegas proposes banning grass yards for new homes

Grassy yards would be banned at all new housing and commercial developments in the Las Vegas metro area as officials try to expand water use limitations and the region prepares for a hotter and drier future. The Southern Nevada Water Authority passed resolutions on Monday to prohibit the yards and the use of evaporative cooling machines, also known as “swamp coolers,” at the new developments. Swamp coolers are used by many people instead of traditional air conditioners, but use more water. The moves build on current limitations for water use in the Las Vegas region, which is undergoing strong growth. They must be approved by local governments to go into effect. The new measures expand on water-use limits already adopted in the Las Vegas region — including a ban on front yard grass, a prohibition on grass being planted in more than half of a backyard and a ban on “non-functional” grass in office parks, street medians, and entrances to communities that have homeowner’s associations. Officials have enacted the measures because of widespread acknowledgement that the region will soon have less water to provide to homes, businesses, and farms and so development for anticipated population growth can be accommodated. Lobbyists for developers and commercial real estate opposed the new limits proposed by the water authority, arguing they needed more study. ― ASSOCIATED PRESS

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WORKPLACE

Wells Fargo once again puts off a return to office

Wells Fargo & Co. postponed its return-to-office plans indefinitely amid a worldwide surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant. Employees will be briefed further on the bank’s plans in 2022, according to a statement. The San Francisco-based lender had said it intended to start bringing back employees who have been working from home beginning Jan. 10. That date was set after the company put off its planned Nov. 1 return. “We are continuing to closely monitor the environment with the health and wellbeing of our employees as our priority,” the bank said Tuesday in its statement. “We look forward to fully returning our teams back to the office.” ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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BILLIONAIRES

Musk says he’ll pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year

Elon Musk, the world’s richest person and chief executive of Tesla Inc., said on Twitter that he’ll pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year, an amount that could constitute a record payment to the US Internal Revenue Service. The billionaire may face a tax bill of more than $10 billion for 2021 if he exercises all his options due to expire next year, calculations last week by Bloomberg News showed. The unusually high levy comes after Musk exercised almost 15 million options and sold millions of shares to cover the taxes related to those transactions. That was following a Twitter poll last month when he asked followers whether he should sell 10 percent of his stake in the electric carmaker, whose shares have rocketed more than 2,300 percent over the past five years. Since the unusual move to ask Twitter users about the plan, Tesla has declined nearly a quarter and the company’s market value has slid back below the $1 trillion mark to $937 billion. Musk earlier this month said he’ll pay more taxes than any American in history this year. That was in response to another tweet from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who used Musk’s Time Magazine “Person of the Year” accolade to call him out on his taxes. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs agrees to buy Sean John fashion brand out of bankruptcy

Sean “Diddy” Combs agreed to pay $7.5 million to buy back the bankrupt fashion brand he founded in 1998 after winning a court supervised auction. “I’m ready to reclaim ownership of the brand, build a team of visionary designers and global partners to write the next chapter of Sean John’s legacy,” Combs said in an e-mailed statement. The label is currently owned by the bankrupt brand manager GBG USA Inc. GBG made 85 percent of its money by selling clothing and footwear through retailers like Costco, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom, according to court documents. GBG had sold most of its other assets before the Sean John auction. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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LABOR

Kellogg workers agree to new contract after strike

About 1,400 striking Kellogg workers have ratified a new contract, their union said Tuesday, ending a strike that began in early October and affected four of the company’s US cereal plants. “Our striking members at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereal production facilities courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract,” Anthony Shelton, president of the workers union, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, said in a statement. Steve Cahillane, the company’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement that he was pleased that the workers approved the deal. The strike had become especially contentious after workers rejected an agreement on a five-year contract between their union and the company in early December, and the company announced that it would move ahead with hiring permanent replacement workers. President Biden waded into the dispute a few days later, saying in a statement that the plan to replace workers was “deeply troubling” and calling it “an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods.” The company and the union announced the second tentative agreement the following week. Under the agreement, newer workers will see their wages immediately rise to just over $24 an hour, and veteran workers will immediately receive a wage increase of $1.10 per hour. ― NEW YORK TIMES

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ENERGY

Maine needs more funding to reach green vehicle goals

Maine is going to need more money to accelerate electric vehicle use and help the state meet its ambitious climate goals. The state has made progress since 2019 by increasing battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 90 percent to 5,577 vehicles and public charging stations by 65 percent to 265 locations, according to a clean transportation roadmap created by an executive order by Governor Janet Mills. The state needs 219,000 light-duty EVs on the road by 2030 to meet a goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent. But the Mills administration said the state has limited funding to reach its goals, the Bangor Daily News reported. That includes $19 million to expand charging through 2025 through the $1 trillion federal infrastructure law. If the state alone funded new charging stations, it would need $7.7 million next year and $17.6 million in 2025.The report opens the door to new controversial funding methods — by increasing the gas tax or adding a vehicle-miles-traveled tax. But the roadmap makes no endorsement. Dan Burgess, director of the governor’s energy office, said the state spends more than $4 billion annually to import fossil fuels, and the clean transportation roadmap “offers options for how Maine can keep more of that money at home and create long-term climate and economic benefits.” ― ASSOCIATED PRESS