Amazon Spends Big to Keep Drivers from Leaving

After years of high turnover that left some employees feeling expendable, Amazon is spending just shy of half a billion dollars for delivery partners to raise pay and provide benefits for drivers amid growing concerns of a labor shortage.

The $450 million investment into Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners (DSP) network gives money to partnered companies to offer drivers pay increases, alongside funding for new benefits such as a 401(k) plan and education and training programs, according to Amazon’s announcement. The announcement, which Amazon said is part of efforts to build and retain “great teams,” comes less than four months after internal documents were leaked revealing Amazon’s concern that if its current hiring practices and treatment of employees continued, it would run out of people willing to work for the company by 2024, according to Vox.

Read More

California Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Amazon

California Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Wednesday an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming that the retail giant “stifled competition and caused increased prices” in the state. 

“Amazon coerces merchants into agreements that keep prices artificially high, knowing full well that they can’t afford to say no. With other e-commerce platforms unable to compete on price, consumers turn to Amazon as a one-stop shop for all their purchases,” Bonta said. “This perpetuates Amazon’s market dominance.” 

Read More

Amazon Newest Acquisition Expands Its Robot Artificial Intelligence Presence in Your Home

Amazon and iRobot signed an agreement Thursday under which Amazon will acquire iRobot, supporting the online retail giant’s ambitions to solidify its foothold on smart home technology, according to The Wall Street Journal.

iRobot makes the popular home-cleaning product Roomba, a wireless smart-vacuum that maps spaces to clean dust and messes, according to the WSJ. The Amazon-iRobot press release notes that Amazon will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.7 billion, including iRobot’s net debt.

Read More

Amazon Prepares to Go on the Offensive Against Newly Unionized Employees

Amazon plans to go on the offensive against the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) following its successful bid to unionize Amazon workers on April 1 in New York City, according to legal documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Amazon intends to appeal the Amazon Labor Union’s victory in a 55% majority vote at a Staten Island, New York City warehouse to unionize the facility’s workers. The company argues that labor groups influenced the outcome of the vote.

Read More

Small Biz Survey: Pennsylvania Government Favors Big Business

Amazon warehouse

Small businesses worry about the power of larger corporations in the marketplace, but they’re also unhappy with the subsidies and tax breaks big businesses get from the government.

A survey of independent small businesses published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance showed that small businesses perceive a business climate that favors bigger companies. A majority of respondents were retailers, and businesses had an average size of 15 employees.

Survey respondents suggested a handful of policy changes they’d like to see:

Ending subsidies and tax breaks for big businesses.
Breaking up and/or regulating Amazon.
Investing in downtowns and neighborhood business districts.
Strengthening antitrust policy and enforcement.
Capping credit card swipe fees.

Read More

Congress Requests DOJ Investigate Amazon for Alleged ‘Criminal Conduct’

Bipartisan members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday requesting an investigation into Amazon for alleged criminal obstruction of the committee’s probe into the tech giant.

The letter, sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, alleged Amazon misled committee members and engaged in “potentially criminal conduct” during a 15-month investigation into competition in digital markets. The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chair Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, Democratic Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, Republican Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Read More

Senate Committee Advances Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar’s Legislation to ‘Rein in Big Tech’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared on Fox News’ Special Report Thursday night, primarily to promote an antitrust bill aimed at reforming laws that govern Big Tech and increasing competition.

A bipartisan U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 Thursday to advance the legislation — The American Innovation and Choice Online Act — as bipartisan lawmakers seek to curtail the power and influence of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and others.

In short, the bill would prevent companies from “unfairly preferencing their own products and services” on their platforms while prohibiting “specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers.”

Read More

Amazon Whistleblower Who Was Imprisoned and Beaten in China Asks Company for Apology

A Chinese man alleging that he was imprisoned and tortured after he revealed substandard working conditions in factories making Amazon products is asking the company for an apology.

Tang Mingfang spent two years in prison after he shed a light on working conditions inside Foxconn factories manufacturing Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Kindle devices, he told The Guardian. Tang said he was beaten and tortured by Chinese authorities during his internment.

“I think Amazon should give me an explanation, tell me if I really deserve to be sent to jail?” Tang said. “If not, Amazon should give me an apology, along with its partner, Foxconn, to assist me to appeal for a redress, and provide compensation.”

Read More

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson Shuts Down ‘Sold by Amazon’ Program Nationwide

Amazon has agreed to shut down its third-party seller program nationwide and pay a fine of $2.25 million after Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson investigated the company for price fixing.

Ferguson simultaneously filed a lawsuit and a legally binding resolution Wednesday in King County Superior Court. The consent decree order means that the Seattle-based company will end its “Sold by Amazon” program and provide the attorney general’s office with annual updates on its efforts to avoid violating antitrust laws.

Read More

Amazon and Facebook Spent More Money Than Ever Lobbying in 2021

Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.

Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.

Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.

Read More

Amazon Workers Will Redo Union Vote After First Election Ruled Illegal

Amazon warehouse in Maryland

Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, are set to hold a second union vote after the first election was deemed illegal, a federal labor agency said Tuesday.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that workers at the Bessemer warehouse would vote again on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Feb. 4. The second vote comes almost a year after the first election in which Amazon employees overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to join the RWDSU.

Following the unsuccessful unionization bid, labor organizers demanded a new vote, alleging that Amazon improperly placed the election ballot box on company property, which the union argued was a form of intimidation. The union also alleged that Amazon threatened warehouse workers with messages saying the facility might close or they might lose benefits if the union vote succeeded.

Read More

Amazon, Google Lobbying Small Business Partners to Oppose Anti-Big Tech Bills

Amazon logo on a Samsung phone

Amazon and Google are lobbying small businesses who use their services to oppose antitrust bills aimed at breaking up major tech companies, enlisting them to pressure lawmakers, Politico reported.

The companies are conducting a public relations campaign in an effort to drum up opposition to antitrust legislation proposed in the Senate, including a bill sponsored by Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar that goes after companies like Amazon and Google for prioritizing their own services in online shopping platforms, according to Politico.

The tech giants are using email campaigns, Zoom calls and online petitions, to spread the message that the bills would harm small businesses that rely on their platforms, Politico reported. Several technology trade groups, including the Connected Commerce Council, are also working to encourage small businesses to oppose the legislation.

Read More

Over Half of U.S. States Will Increase Their Minimum Wage in 2022

Over half of the states in the U.S. will institute a minimum wage increase in 2022, according to a report.

A total of 26 states will raise the minimum wage in 2022, with 22 of the states starting the pay hikes on Jan. 1, accordingto payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.

“These minimum wage increases indicate moves toward ensuring a living wage for people across the country,” Deirdre Kennedy, senior payroll analyst at Wolters Kluwer, said in the report. “In addition to previously approved incremental increases, the change in presidential administration earlier this year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have also contributed to these changes.”

Read More

Amazon Disables Ability to Rate Books Sold in China at Chinese Government’s Request

Amazon stopped offering customer ratings and reviews of books sold in China at the request of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a Reuters investigation.

The Chinese government ordered Amazon to stop allowing customers to review books following less-than-perfect ratings of a collection of President Xi Jinping’s writings, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Amazon partnered with a state-owned firm called China International Book Trading Corp (CIBTC) and created a portal, which it called China Books, that promotes Chinese Communist Party material and forbids negative reviews.

Read More

Amazon Removes Matt Walsh’s Children’s Book ‘Johnny The Walrus’ from LGBT Book List

Matt Walsh

Amazon removed Daily Wire host Matt Walsh’s children’s book, “Johnny the Walrus,” from its LGBTQ+ bestseller list on Friday.

Walsh’s book reached the top spot on Amazon’s LGBTQ+ bestseller list last weekend, according to the Daily Wire. However, as of Friday, the book can no longer be seen on the list at all, apparently having been removed.

“Amazon has removed my bestselling LGBT children’s book from their LGBT book list. This is an unconscionable attack on gay rights and a horrific example of homophobia and gay erasure,” Walsh posted on Twitter on Friday morning.

Read More

Amazon Hit with Massive $1.3 Billion Fine for Anti-Competitive Practices

An Italian regulator hit Amazon with a massive fine Thursday over alleged anti-competitive business practices.

The Italian Competition Authority issued the $1.3 billion penalty after the results of its investigation into Amazon concluded the online marketplace favored third-party vendors who use Amazon’s shipping and logistics services, the regulator announced in a press release Thursday. The Authority alleged that Amazon boosted the presence of vendors that used its services on its site as a way to increase use of its own logistic service, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

Read More

Commentary: Platform Transparency Can Help Build Antitrust Cases

There is growing bipartisan concern over the power Silicon Valley’s oligopolies wield over American society. Amazon alone controls 72% of U.S. adult book sales, Airbnb accounts for a fifth of domestic lodging expenditures and Facebook accounts for almost three-quarters of social media visits. Just two companies, Apple and Google, act as gatekeepers to 99% of smartphones, while two others, Uber and Lyft, control 98% of the ride-share market in the U.S. Yet, for government to take robust antitrust action against Silicon Valley requires the kind of data it currently lacks: documenting the harm this market consolidation inflicts on consumers. A new RealClearFoundation report offers a look at how amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require platform transparency could aid such antitrust efforts.

When it comes to Silicon Valley’s social media platforms, they have long argued that antitrust laws don’t apply to them because their services are provided free of charge. In reality, users do pay for their services: with their data rather than their money. Companies today harvest vast amounts of private information about their users every day, using that data to invisibly nudge their users toward purchases and consuming ads, or the companies simply sell that data outright.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More