Counting of Ballots Begins in Amazon Union Vote: Live Updates

This is what you need to know:.

Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala Credit … Charity Rachel for the New York Times.

The counting of votes that will determine whether the union can be established at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, begins Tuesday. But the results of the union election, one of the most consistent in recent history, may not be known until late this week or early next week, as the vote is often a laborious process that will be scrutinized by union and Amazon officials.

Ballots sent to workers in early February must be received signed by the National Labor Relations Board at its Birmingham office by the end of Monday.

The chairman of the works council first reads out the names of the employees without opening the inner envelope containing a valid ballot paper. Representatives of the union and Amazon will be brought together in a private video conference. As each name is read aloud, the names of the employees are compared to the list of employees, and if either party disputes that the employee was eligible to vote, that ballot is counted. It is also expected that a representative of each party will be present in person to observe the process.

After both parties have had the opportunity to express their objections to the admissibility of the ballots, the N.L.R.B. will begin the counting of the ballots without objection. After every 100 votes, the Working Committee will recount these ballots until all votes are counted. This part will be accessible to stakeholders via videoconference.

The discovery of more disputed ballots than uncontested ballots is likely to generate legal arguments from the department stores and warehouses union, which led the organizing campaign, and Amazon over the legitimacy of each disputed ballot. Each party has about a week to make its views known before the N.L.R.B. certifies the vote.

Any party can dispute that the vote was fair. A trade union, for example, could do this. B. allege that the company is taking steps to improperly influence the vote, which could cause employees to fear retaliation if they support the organization.

If the union succeeds, workers fear the company will close the warehouse. Amazon was moving away from the places that had previously given her a headache.

But the company has invested more than $360 million in leasing and equipping a warehouse in Bessemer, and the closure of a key voice of black employees could publicly backfire, said Marc Wulfraat, a logistics consultant who follows the company closely.

A worker inspects disposable gloves at the Top Glove factory near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August…Credit…Mohd Rasfan/ Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ordered port officials to seize disposable gloves from the world’s largest manufacturer of rubber gloves, a Malaysian company that the department says uses forced labor in its factories.

In a statement released Monday, Customs and Border Protection said it had sufficient information to believe that Top Glove used forced labor in the production of disposable gloves.

Last July, the authority issued an import ban against two subsidiaries of Top Glove on suspicion of using forced labour. It announced Monday that it had determined that rubber gloves manufactured by a company using forced, penal or compulsory labor have been or are likely to be imported into the United States.

Based on this finding, the agency said in a notice that it has authorized U.S. port directors to seize the gloves and initiate seizure proceedings unless the importers can prove that the gloves were not manufactured using prohibited labor.

The announcement is the result of a months-long effort to keep products of modern slavery out of U.S. commerce, Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.

The agency will not tolerate unprotected workers being exploited by foreign companies to sell cheap, unethical products to American consumers, he said. He added that the agency has taken steps to ensure that the enforcement action does not significantly impact total imports of disposable gloves into the United States.

Following the import ban on Top Glove subsidiaries last summer, company executives stated that they would improve the dormitories for their employees and compensate affected workers.

In a statement released Tuesday, the company said it was in contact with the U.S. agency and hoped to resolve all outstanding issues immediately.

Top Glove also said it had hired an independent employment consultant in the UK since July last year. The consultancy, Impactt Limited, said in a statement this month that its recent investigations have not revealed systematic forced labour among its direct employees.

But Andy Hall, a Nepal-based labor rights activist, said Tuesday that Top Glove remains an unethical company whose factories and supply chains still use forced labor, and a company that puts profit and production efficiency above the basic rights of its workers.

Hall stated that he welcomed the announcement by Customs and Border Protection and that the next step would be to hold the owners and investors of the company accountable.

Top Glove controls about a quarter of the world rubber glove market and has 21,000 employees. Many come from some of Asia’s poorest countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, and live and work in overcrowded conditions.

The company posted record profits during the pandemic, despite the fact that thousands of its low-paid workers in Malaysia were affected by a major outbreak of the coronavirus last year.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks takes on Ben Simmons and Danny Green of the Philadelphia 76ers. Sports fans can buy, sell and collect digital moments at the N.B.A. Top Shot Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Dapper Labs, the blockchain company that launched digital collectibles known as NFTs for non-transferable tokens, said Tuesday that it has raised $305 million in new funding.

The company, which has partnered with the National Basketball Association, created an online marketplace in October called N.B.A. Top Shot, where sports fans can buy, sell and collect digital moments – mostly videos of basketball players. But unlike most basketball moments on YouTube or ESPN, these moments are on a blockchain, a digital ledger that tracks transactions in cryptocurrencies so fans can buy, collect and trade them like trading cards.

Top Shot has exploded in popularity, in part due to the broader hype surrounding cryptocurrencies and NFT, which has driven up the value of bitcoin and led to staggering bets on digital art. According to Dapper Labs, there were over three million top shot transactions generating $500 million in revenue. The company makes money from selling digital moments and also receives a commission when the moment is resold.

The new funding values Vancouver, British Columbia-based Dapper Labs at $2.6 billion. This is the largest funding for the company, which had previously raised $52.5 million.

Investors in the new financing include venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, hedge fund Coatue Management and current and former N.B.A. stars like Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson, as well as celebrities like Will Smith and Ashton Kutcher.

Roham Gharegozlou, founder and CEO of Dapper Labs, which also developed the blockchain game CryptoKitties in 2017, said Top Shot catalyzed the buzz around NFT.

I think N.B.A. Top Shot proves that these platforms are ready for prime time, he said.

Garegozlu said the new funding will be aimed at developing partnerships with other sports leagues, such as the Martial Arts Championship, a mixed martial arts organization. He added that the company will also hire more employees and fund NMT projects started by other startups.

The Obama administration said a design featuring Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill would be introduced by 2020. linked to credit Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress, via Associated Press.

On the first day of Biden’s tenure, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Treasury Department was taking steps to renew efforts to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. It is important that our money reflects the history and diversity of our country, Psaki said.

But it will likely be years before we see the leader in the metro play the U.S. currency, according to the newsletter DealBook.

The reason? The printing date for the new version of the $20 bill is set for 2030. It was created by the Anti-Counterfeiting Committee in 2013, two years before Tubman won the campaign to replace President Andrew Jackson on the ticket.

The main reason the coin is being redesigned is to ensure security against counterfeiting, Lydia Washington, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, told DealBook. The timing of the redesign is determined by the development of the safety functions.

The Obama administration said the draft would be ready by 2020, the year the 19th Amendment turns 100 years old. Much has reportedly already been cleaned up, but in 2019, President Donald J. Trump’s Treasury Secretary will be in charge of the cleanup. Trump’s Steven Mnuchin said the project would be delayed until at least 2026. (Insiders say they have always doubted that the 2020 deadline could be met).

It appears that the complex process of designing and testing currencies cannot be rushed. No final images were selected, Washington said. The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The container ship Ever Given was hijacked on Monday and crossed the Suez Canal. Oil prices fell as shipping resumed on waterways. Credit…Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images

  • Wall Street opened lower on Tuesday due to a rise in bond yields.
  • The S&P 500 fell 0.3% in morning trade and the Nasdaq Composite, a high-tech index, lost 0.7%.
  • In bond markets, attention returned to the pace of the US economic recovery as President Biden’s more detailed plans for clean energy and infrastructure spending, including a significant expansion of offshore wind power along the East Coast, were revealed. A $3 trillion economic package follows a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that is in the works.
  • Bond prices fell, causing 10-year bond yields to rise sharply. The interest rate on U.S. Treasuries rose 5 basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 1.76%, the highest level since January 2020. Rapid economic growth is likely to push up prices, making bonds less attractive.
  • Most European equity indices rose, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.5%. Data released Tuesday showed that inflation rose in Spain and Germany, while the euro zone’s economic confidence index reached its highest level since before the pandemic in March.
  • Oil prices have fallen. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures are trading 1.5 percent lower at $60.61 a barrel. With the opening of the Suez Canal, attention is focused on a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies that begins Thursday to set production quotas for May. In early March, OPEC decided to reduce quotas for April.
  • With the Suez Canal gradually returning to normal, bond markets appear to be counting on an economic recovery, ING analysts wrote, referring to rising bond yields. They also warned that traders and investors calculating their positions at the end of the first quarter will affect market prices this week.
  • Shares of Swiss bank Credit Suisse and Japanese bank Nomura picked up slightly after Monday’s deep losses as the banks said they were facing losses as they tried to withdraw positions related to U.S. hedge fund Archegos.
  • Sterling rose 0.2 percent against the euro to its strongest level in 13 months as Britain’s blockchain restrictions were eased slightly on Monday.

The mobile touchscreen acts as a digital whiteboard, while the mobile phone on the tripod takes a picture that can then be used in a presentation.Credit … John Maggenborg for The New York Times

As CEOs plan to return to the office, the post-pandemic workplace is being discussed not only in terms of safety measures, but also in terms of new models of work organization. According to a new survey from KayoCloud, a real estate technology platform, more than 80 percent of companies rely on a hybrid model where employees are in the office three days a week.

According to Jane Margolis of The New York Times, workplaces are being redesigned to take advantage of face-to-face interactions, including collaboration on projects.

The common areas will be enlarged and equipped with furniture that can be moved as needed. Office furniture suppliers Steelcase and Knoll are reporting strong interest in mobile desks, carts and partitions.

As conference rooms proliferate, the fate of your personal office space – a desk adorned with family photos, a few filing cabinets – is at stake. In some cases, personal desks are being replaced by hotel workstations, or hot desks, which can be used by someone who needs a place to spend the day.

The conference rooms have also been restarted. Companies are wondering how they can offer remote workers the same opportunities for participation as those who are physically present. There is even talk of artificial intelligence being used to create holographic images of employees who are not in the office, but can still sit at their desks. And digital whiteboards are expected to gain popularity, allowing home workers to see what they are writing in real time.

Kroger requires employees and customers to wear masks. linked to Easy Amos credit for the New York Times.

Retailers and workers in fast food establishments feel at risk again in states like Mississippi and Texas, where governments have lifted coverage requirements before most people have been vaccinated, and as alarming new variants of the coronavirus emerge.

It’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, when companies told their customers to wear masks, but there was no legal requirement and many customers simply refused, Sapna Maheshwari reports for the New York Times. Many employees say that their stores do not follow this rule and that when they approach customers, they risk verbal or physical altercations.

For many people who work in retail, particularly grocery stores and large chain stores, the lifting of the mask requirement is another example of how little protection and recognition they received during the pandemic. They were praised as indispensable workers, but this rarely translated into extra pay beyond their low wages. Initially, grocery store workers in most states were not prioritized for vaccination, although health experts warned the public to limit their time in grocery stores because of the risk associated with new variants of the coronavirus. (Texas is open on Mondays to anyone 16 and older).

The differences between government and commercial mandates make some workers fear further confrontations. Refusing to serve people without masks or asking them to leave led to incidents last year such as punching a cashier in the face, breaking a Target clerk’s arm and shooting a Family Dollar security guard.

Emily Francois, a saleswoman at Walmart in Port Arthur, Texas, said customers ignored signs that they had to wear masks and that Walmart did not enforce the policy.

I see customers coming in without masks, coughing, sneezing and not covering their mouths, said Francois, who has worked at Walmart for 14 years and is a member of the advocacy group United for Respect. Customers who enter the store without a mask give us an unworthy, unsafe feeling.

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