3-D printing firm scores more impressive fund-raising


3-D printing firm scores more impressive fund-raising

Markforged, a Watertown-based maker of 3-D printers, has raised an additional $82 million in venture funding, in a round led by Summit Partners and including the venture arms of software maker Microsoft, carmaker Porsche, and German industrial conglomerate Siemens. The new investment gives Markforged a total of $136.8 million in funding since the company was founded in 2013. Markforged makes 3-D printers that use either carbon fiber or metal powders as raw materials. The company’s Metal X system can create complex parts out of metals like steel, aluminum, and titanium, without the need to build costly molds. Markforged competes against Desktop Metal, a Burlington company that specializes in 3-D metal printing and has attracted $436.8 million in venture funding from Koch Industries and the Ford Motor Co., among others. — HIAWATHA BRAY



Union lodges complaint against Amazon over firing

A union organizing Amazon.com Inc. employees in New York has filed a complaint accusing the company of illegally firing one of its most prominent supporters. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union submitted a complaint Wednesday to the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the retailer violated federal law when it terminated Rashad Long from its fulfillment center on Staten Island. In December, Long joined a rally at City Hall protesting Amazon’s proposed expansion in Queens. During the protest, a participant read a statement from Long criticizing Amazon for what he deemed disrespectful management, unfair discipline, inadequate security, and poor health and safety. An Amazon spokeswoman said that Long was “terminated for violating a serious safety policy.” Federal labor law prohibits companies from retaliating against employees for organizing. But the government is not allowed to assess punitive damages, and even in cases where employees prevail, winning reinstatement can take months or years, during which terminated workers may go without pay and their co-workers may be deterred from organizing. RWDSU, an affiliate of the United Food & Commercial Workers union, announced in December that it was working with employees seeking to unionize the Staten Island facility. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Motor City to get driverless cars

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would build its first autonomous vehicles at a $50 million production center in Michigan as part of an earlier pledge to invest $900 million in manufacturing operations in the state. Production of the self-driving vehicles is expected to start in 2021, with hybrid vehicles being shipped in to be fitted with driverless technology, the carmaker said. Ford said the work would be done in the Detroit area. In addition to the autonomous vehicle production center, Ford said it planned to expand its production capacity at an existing plant in Flat Rock, Mich., and will start production of new electric vehicle models there by 2023. The effort will create 900 new jobs in the next few years. Ford has said it plans to invest $11.1 billion overall in electrification, with 16 battery electric vehicle models by 2022 and 24 hybrid options by 2022. — NEW YORK TIMES



Nominee coming for last open SEC seat

President Trump is preparing to name Allison Lee in the coming weeks to fill the open Democratic seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the matter. The selection of Lee to replace Kara Stein, who left the SEC in January after her term ended, would bring the five-member commission back to full strength if she is confirmed by the Senate. She is a former aide to Stein who also worked as lawyer in the SEC’s enforcement division. If she wins confirmation, Lee would be expected to bring a more liberal perspective to the SEC, restoring a balance that has made Chairman Jay Clayton a swing vote on key issues. She could have an immediate impact on commissioners’ decisions over fining companies in enforcement cases, a matter of intense debate at the agency. The SEC’s current lineup includes two Republicans, Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman; Clayton, a political independent picked by Trump; and Robert Jackson Jr., an independent picked to fill a Democratic seat. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Taxpayers, not coal companies, could be backstop for sick miners

The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue paying benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding. But the expected shortfalls will be covered by taxpayers instead of coal companies. In January, a tax rate that determined what coal companies pay to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut in half, leaving sick miners and their advocates fearing future benefit cuts. The fund is about $4 billion in debt. The trust fund offers medical coverage and cash payments to black lung patients. The Department of Labor told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it is obligated to continue to pay benefits to sick miners. The agency says any shortfall would be covered by borrowing from the US Treasury. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


China tariffs may remain for some time

President Trump Wednesday said he had no plans to quickly remove tariffs against Chinese-imported goods even if a broad trade agreement is reached, saying he would need more time to determine if leaders in Beijing would comply with new rules. ‘‘We’re talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time, because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal,’’ Trump told reporters. ‘‘Because they’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals.’’ His comments came as talks between the two countries have reached a critical stage. Negotiations have bogged down amid a dispute over what would happen if China did not abide by the terms of any new deal, as well as Trump’s demand for far-reaching changes in China’s state-led economic system. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to fly to China next week for further talks. — WASHINGTON POST



One-day strike highlights contract dispute at Calif. system

Members of a union representing research and technical workers walked picket lines Wednesday at University of California campuses and hospitals in a one-day strike amid a lengthening stretch of unsuccessful contract negotiations. Some 10,000 members of University Professional and Technical Employees-Communications Workers of America were expected to take part, spokesman Dan Russell said. They perform jobs including running clinical trials, assisting in laboratory tests, managing classroom technology, and caring for research animals. The UC system includes 10 campuses, five medical centers, and three national laboratories, 190,000 faculty and staff and 238,000 students. The union and the University of California have been at odds since 2017 over issues including pay, health care premiums, and retirement terms. UC spokeswoman Claire Doan called the strike, ‘‘organized theatrics,’’ and said agreeing to the unions’ demands would cost the system hundreds of millions of dollars. Union officials characterized the strike as a protest of growing income inequality at the university. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Bulked up, Disney must now slim down

Walt Disney Co. completed its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainments assets, and now must get to the task of squeezing out promised cost savings, an effort that will lead to thousands of firings in the film and TV business. Disney takes over a portfolio that includes the 104-year-old 20th Century Fox studio, the FX and National Geographic cable networks, and an additional 30 percent of Hulu, the online video service. Chief executive Bob Iger has promised $2 billion in cost savings, a commitment that all but assures epic job cuts. In a note to employees Wednesday, Iger said management has spent the past year studying how to integrate the companies and that the process would be “an evolution,” with some businesses affected more than others. “I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us,” he wrote. “We’re committed to moving as quickly as possible to provide clarity regarding how your role may be impacted.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS