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Art Klee

Suburban cuts 40 jobs in Dayton, Tennessee

One of the biggest manufacturing employers in Rhea County is cutting about 40 jobs at its Dayton, Tennessee factory as the maker of gas heaters and appliances for the recreational vehicle heaters adjusts to a slowdown in RV sales.

Art Klee, president of Suburban, said the company is trimming its current staff size of about 400 or so employees in Dayton to respond to seasonal and economy shifts in purchases of its equipment. Suburban, a division of Airxcel Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, makes and markets more than 800,000 gas appliances a year, primarily used in travel trailers and other recreational vehicles.

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) projects shipments of recreational vehicles from manufacturers to retailers will decline in 2019 by another 5.4 percent after declining an estimated 5.1 percent this year. The peak year for sales was reached in 2017 at 504,600 units following eight years of consecutive growth in sales, according to RVIA estimates.

Surburban is the second biggest manufacturing employer in Rhea County behind only La-Z-Boy, also in Dayton.

Bayer cuts 12,000 jobs after Monsanto buy

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG says it's cutting 12,000 jobs worldwide as it seeks to reduce costs.

The Leverkusen-based company said Thursday that details of the cuts to its 118,200-stong workforce would be worked out in coming months but that "a significant number" of the reductions would come in Germany.

Bayer acquired U.S. seed and weed-killer maker Monsanto Co. this year. It says with the "synergies expected from the acquisition of Monsanto" and other efficiency and structural measures, including the job cuts, "Bayer anticipates annual contributions of 2.6 billion euros from 2022 on."

The company says a portion of the funds will be used to strengthen competitiveness and innovation in its divisions.

Planet Fitness fires two over rape claim

A former manager at New Hampshire-based Planet Fitness has sued the company, saying she was subjected to a male-dominated, "debaucherous" environment that included sexual harassment and rape.

Casey Willard said senior management at the Hampton headquarters organized "Fireball Friday" and other drinking activities, making staff drink at work.

Willard also claims in her lawsuit filed in September that she was drugged and raped on a business trip by another employee and his friends. She reported it to police. She also said a manager initiated a sexual relationship with her in violation of an anti-fraternization policy.

A spokeswoman for Planet Fitness said Thursday that the company investigated her claims and terminated two employees. The company disputed her other "baseless allegations."

Mortgage rates steady; 30-year stays at 4.81 %

U.S. long-term mortgage rates barely budged this week after marking the biggest drop in nearly four years a week earlier.

Home borrowing rates remain much higher than they were a year ago. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage held steady at 4.81 percent this week. That compares with 3.90 percent a year ago.

The rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans edged up to 4.25 percent from 4.24 percent the previous week.

Mortgage rates were pushed sharply lower last week by tumbling oil prices and a sliding stock market. But they have increased over the past year amid the strong economy and anxiety over rising interest rates.

The higher mortgage rates have kept many potential homebuyers on the sidelines. But in recent weeks buyers have jumped on the stability of rates, sparking an increase in applications for mortgages, Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said. That means despite higher rates, "there are buyers on the fence waiting for the right time to buy," he said.