Labor Board Orders New Union Election at Amazon Warehouse

Amazon warehouse in Maryland

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, ruling that the company violated federal labor law during the first election.

“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday.

“Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union,” he continued.

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Cotton, Klobuchar Plan to Rein in Big Tech’s ‘Monopolistic’ Practices with New Bipartisan Bill

Amy Klobuchar and Tom Cotton

Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a bipartisan bill Friday intended to restrict how major tech companies acquire and merge with smaller firms.

The bill, titled the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, is a companion to antitrust legislation advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee in June. If enacted, the law would shift the burden in antitrust cases to the acquiring party for mergers greater than $50 million, meaning that the acquiring firm would have to prove that its acquisition of another company was not anti-competitive.

The bill explicitly targets Big Tech companies, and it applies to firms with market capitalizations over $600 billion, at least 50,000,000 U.S.-based monthly active users or 100,000 monthly active business users. This would include Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple.

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Big Tech Companies Apple and Amazon Warn of Worsening Supply Chain Crisis

A ship arriving at the Hamburg harbor.

On Thursday, two of the biggest tech companies in the world posted earnings that fell below market expectations, attributed to the ongoing supply chain crisis that is paralyzing the American economy, according to CNN.

For the third quarter of 2021, Amazon’s net sales amounted to around $110.8 billion, which was a 15 percent increase from the previous year; however, this ultimately fell below market analyst predictions of about $111.6 billion. Amazon’s overall net income for the same period decreased from the same period in 2020 to about $3.2 billion, when predictions estimated around $4.6 billion.

Apple’s sales during the same quarter were $83.4 billion, with iPhone sales at $38.9 billion; both were lower than original projections.

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Commentary: Tennessee Legislature Must Pass Big COVID Test in ‘Special Session’

The red state/blue state dichotomy is not simple.

Nowhere is that more apparent than Tennessee where—despite having one of the most conservative electorates in the country—the leadership has been passive at best in responding to the wishes of their supporters during these days of great crisis.

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Amazon Warehouse Workers in New York Set to File for Union Vote

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York City, announced plans Thursday to file for a union election before the National Labor Relations Board next week.

Amazon Labor Union, which represents 2,000 Amazon workers, signed union authorization cards and announced plans to petition for an election, according to Vice. If the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approves this request and the unionization vote succeeds, the workers would be the first Amazon employees to successfully unionize.

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Lawmakers Say Amazon ‘Misled’ and ‘May Have Lied’ to Congress

Top members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy on Monday questioning whether the tech company’s executives lied under oath to Congress.

The letter, sent by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including House Judiciary Committee Chair Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York and House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee Ranking Member Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, referred to Wednesday reporting from Reuters stating that Amazon used its online marketplace to collect data on competitors and manufacture imitations of their products, prioritizing its imitations over competitors’ products in search results. The lawmakers also cited a Thursday investigation by The Markup which found that Amazon provided its “brands” better search result locations than those awarded to competitors with better ratings and reviews.

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Conservative Tech Groups Slam Ex-Intelligence Officials for Defending Monopolies, Urge Passage of Antitrust Bills

Two conservative tech advocacy groups sent a letter to House lawmakers criticizing former national security officials for attempting to prevent the passage of antitrust bills targeting Big Tech.

The letter, sent by the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) and the American Principles Project (APP) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with lawmakers responsible for overseeing antitrust legislation, urged Congress to pass six bills targeting major tech companies advanced beyond the House Judiciary Committee in June. The letter also criticized twelve former intelligence officials who sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of antitrust bills in mid-September.

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Amazon Is Awarding Cars and Cash Prizes to Warehouse, Retail Workers Who Get Vaccinated

Amazon is handing out cash prizes and vehicles to its workers that receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of a push to vaccinate more of its frontline employees.

The company announced on one of its Instagram pages Monday that five employees were awarded cars worth up to $40,000 dollars as winners of a vaccine sweepstakes.

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Arizona Senate Candidate Blake Masters’ Plans to Tackle Big Tech’s ‘Predatory’ Business Practices

Woman in a red suit on Smartphone

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.

“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.

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Amazon to Pay Employees’ Full College Tuition in Latest Attempt to Attract More Workers

Amazon will begin paying college tuition for hundreds of thousands of its employees in an effort to attract more workers, the company said Thursday.

More than 750,000 hourly Amazon employees nationwide will be eligible to have their full college tuition paid for at one of hundreds of partner universities, according to the announcement. The billion-dollar online retailer said it would also pay for employees’ associate degrees and high school tuition.

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Amazon Will Start Actively Looking for Content to Remove from Hosting Platform: Report

Amazon logo on a Samsung phone

Amazon is creating a team dedicated to actively locating content that violates its policies and removing it from its cloud hosting platform, Reuters reported.

The company’s cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is set to hire several people to monitor and remove abusive, illegal, and violent content, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters. The team will also work with outside researchers to review and identify offending content, the source said.

AWS provides data storage, machine learning, and cloud web-hosting, among other services. The division attracted controversy earlier this year when it kicked social media app Parler off its cloud servers over allegations the app was used to coordinate the Jan. 6 riots inside the Capitol building.

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Amazon Plans to Open Department Stores

Amazon is planning to open department stores where consumers can purchase a variety of goods like clothing and electronics, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The planned expansion of Amazon brick-and-mortar stores is the online retail giant’s latest attempt to disrupt the industry, according to a WSJ report Thursday. The Seattle-based company has recently expanded its brick-and-mortar grocery store footprint, opening 17 Amazon Fresh stores nationwide, and is developing at least 20 more, Bloomberg reported.

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EU Regulator Hits Amazon with Record-Breaking Fine for How It Uses Customer Data

An EU privacy regulator hit Amazon with an $887 million fine for violating laws related to the processing of personal data.

The Luxembourg agency National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) issued the fine, imposed July 16 and revealed Friday, ruling that Amazon’s processing of personal data in relation to its advertising practices was in violation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to Amazon’s 10-Q SEC filing. The fine is the largest ever issued under the GDPR, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Corporations Silent on Why They Pulled Funding from Republicans Who Questioned an Election, but Not Democrats Who Did the Same

Corporations were silent on why they chose to suspend political contributions to Republicans, but not Democrats who have objected to election results.

More than 15 major U.S. companies that announced they would suspend giving money to members of Congress following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation about their political contribution activity following the 2016 presidential election. The corporations were quick to condemn Republicans lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election earlier this year, but apparently didn’t criticize or punish Democrats who have similarly objected to election results in the past.

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Amazon Calls for Higher Taxes on All Corporations Except Itself

Amazon logo on Samsung smartphone screen

While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.

Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.

But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Jeff Bezos Steps Down as CEO of Amazon

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos officially handed over the position of CEO to successor Andy Jassy on Monday, transitioning to the role of executive chair.

Bezos, whose stake in Amazon is worth roughly $180 billion according to the Associated Press, announced in a blog post his plans to step down from the chief executive officer position in February. Bezos said his new position as executive chair would allow him “to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.”

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Amazon Demands Recusal of Federal Trade Commission Chair from Any Antitrust Investigations

Federal Trade Commission

Tech giant Amazon recently demanded that the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission be recused from any antitrust investigations into the company, according to the Daily Caller.

Amazon filed the petition with the FTC on Wednesday, accusing Chairwoman Lina Khan of being biased due to the fact that she “has, on numerous occasions, argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.” The petition continued by declaring that “these statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”

The FTC is already conducting several antitrust investigations, including against Amazon; their most recent efforts are focusing on Amazon’s possible acquisition of the film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a purchase of nearly $9 billion announced last month.

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Congress’ Antitrust Legislation Avoids Regulating Many Big Tech Companies

Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.

The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.

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Biden’s Sister Appears to Capitalize on His Position with Book Deal

Valerie Biden Owens

President Joe Biden’s sister will publish a book in April titled “Growing Up Biden: A Memoir,” according to an Amazon pre-order page.

Valerie Biden Owens, a close confidant of the president appears to be capitalizing on his position as president in the new book that appears to go against White House policy, Fox News reported.

“It’s the White House’s policy that the President’s name should not be used in connection with any commercial activities to suggest or in any way — in any way they could reasonably be understood to imply his endorsement or support,” Psaki said at a press briefing in January. “He’s issued the farthest-reaching executive order with respect to the ethical commitments required of his appointees ever and is very proud of it. And, you know, that’s something that he is committed to conveying to anyone it applies to.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Reportedly Phoned Pelosi to Warn Her Against Antitrust Bills

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.

Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.  

Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.

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Amazon to Acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 Billion in Mega Media Deal

MGM building in Las Vegas, Nevada

Amazon acquired MGM Studios for $8.45 billion in a mega deal that will bolster Amazon’s entertainment profile, the companies announced Wednesday morning.

The deal will allow Amazon to give its subscribers access to MGM Studios’ entire portfolio of movies and television shows, according to the announcement. MGM Studios’ content library includes more than 4,000 films and 17,000 television shows.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

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Labor Board Will Hold Hearing over Whether Amazon Interfered with Union Election

Amazon warehouse

The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing next month to investigate challenges levied by the union that attempted to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama, according to CNBC.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acting regional director Lisa Henderson will preside over the hearing on May 7 and has the power to order a new unionization election, CNBC reported.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed charges with the NLRB against Amazon on April 19, alleging that the company had intimidated and threatened employees throughout the election.

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Silicon Valley Tech Platforms Receive Failing Grades on Quarterly Censorship Report

According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.

“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”

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Commentary: Amazon’s Rejection of Unions in Alabama Is a Big Loss for Big Labor

Amazon workers

Big labor suffered a significant loss in its attempt to unionize employees at Amazon’s warehouse facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Of the workers eligible to vote, an embarrassingly small 16% voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. It was the most recent in a series of high-profile losses for labor including failed attempts to unionize factories for Volkswagen, Nissan Motors, and Boeing. In each case, union leaders bet that they could convince workers it was in their best interests to be enrolled in a union that would stand up to management over wages and working conditions. In each case, they lost.

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