Biden’s plan also includes cooperating with Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger to make COVID tests more widely available and easier to obtain. Those retailers will sell at-home rapid tests at-cost for the next three months, meaning they’ll cost up to 35% less both in stores and online.
These price reductions will go into effect by the end of this week, the administration said.
As part of the administration’s effort to improve access to COVID tests, Medicaid is required to make at-home COVID tests free for beneficiaries, the administration said, adding that “states should ensure that any tools they use to manage at-home testing do not establish arbitrary barriers for people seeking care.”
In addition, 25 million rapid tests will be sent to hundreds of food banks and 1,400 community health centers across the US.
California just passed a new bill that could give Amazon workers the chance to push back against their quotas.
Assembly Bill 701 passed on Wednesday, and says warehouse workers don’t have to meet quotas that are high enough to prevent staff from taking breaks or going to the bathroom. Workers also don’t have to comply with quotas that force them to skirt health and safety, the bill says.
If the bill becomes law, it will force companies to be more transparent about quotas. It states that companies can’t punish workers for meeting quotas they weren’t told about.
If it becomes law, warehouse workers would be able to request quota data from employers, and demand quotas be lowered if they interfere with breaks and staff safety. Workers who lose their jobs for not meeting targets could also appeal their termination.
The bill must be signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom before becoming law.
While the bill does not specifically name Amazon, it is geared towards checking the power of the tech behemoth. Amazon workers have spoken out repeatedly about the speed they’re expected to work at, with some saying they’re treated like robots.
When assembly member Lorena Gonzalez introduced the bill, she said rising workplace injury rates was due to “online retail giants like Amazon subjecting their workers to debilitating work speeds and relentless production quotas.” She also said that “Amazon manages their workers’ productivity through a system of constant surveillance, which often results in workers having to compromise safety rules to keep up with their debilitating quotas.”
Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.
The obscurity of Amazon’s productivity-monitoring systems has also been cited as a problem by workers.
While Amazon workers are generally aware of their quotas for how many items they need to process, Amazon monitors their productivity using other metrics, including “Time off Task” (TOT), which measures how much time workers spend away from their station.
Catherine Highsmith, a worker at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, told Insider in March that workers were not told how much TOT they had racked up, or how close they were to getting reprimanded as a result.
“You have no way of knowing – only the process assistants and managers are the people with access to those metrics and can see your time off task,” she said.
The Verge in April 2019 obtained documents showing the company terminated hundreds of employees at one facility over the course of a year for not meeting productivity expectations. The documents also showed Amazon workers were tracked using automated systems that could terminate employees.
In response to the Verge’s piece, Amazon said that, “in general, the number of employee terminations have decreased over the last two years at this facility as well as across North America.”
Insider has been tracking these trends at some of the biggest advertising buyers and sellers, including WPP, Omnicom, Google, and Amazon, and rounded up our coverage.
The crackdown on ad tracking is changing advertising
Targeting changes are forcing advertisers to come up with new ways to reach consumers. Google and Apple have sent shockwaves through the ad industry when they announced changes that would put an end to longstanding ad targeting practices in the face of pro-privacy regulation.
Those moves have led marketers, their agencies, and adtech companies like LiveRamp and The Trade Desk scrambling to find workarounds.
Even as advertisers slashed their spending in the economic downturn, the rise of streaming TV and online shopping has benefitted adtech companies that help connect ad buyers and sellers and solve advertising and marketing problems.
Investors are pouring money into firms like like TVision DoubleVerify that are solving problems in digital advertising. Other firms are going public as Wall Street fell back in love with adtech due to broad macroeconomic changes.
A new set of companies sees an opportunity in selling advertising include food delivery companies, online retailers, and brick-and-mortar grocers. They’re hoping to replicate the success of Amazon, which claimed 10.3% of the US digital ad market in 2020 and is competing with Google and Facebook for ad budgets.
A sprawling, new Amazon fulfillment center in Tijuana, Mexico, is surrounded by deteriorating low-income housing units as the tech giant continues its push into the foreign market.
Photos of the new warehouse were captured by photographer Omar Martinez and show a stark contrast between Amazon’s crisp, white facility and the crumbling shacks around it. They were shared widely and discussed on Reddit and Twitter.
Martinez shared the exact location of the warehouse with Insider – it sits about three miles south of the US-Mexico border.
Amazon spokesperson Marisa Vano confirmed to Insider that “the upcoming opening of our Fulfillment Center in Tijuana” will create “more than 250 jobs in the area.”
But for some areas with new warehouses – such as in Davenport, Illinois – economists say that Amazon’s competitive wages may force local retailers to match that pay, which could lower employment rates since it limits how many people they can employ, according to the Quad-City Times. The economists also said that jobs need to be high-paying for communities to see long-term economic growth.
And a report from the Economic Policy Institute in 2018 found that while there’s a 30% increase in jobs, there isn’t always an overall increase in employment in areas where a new Amazon warehouse goes up. The report suggests “that some sort of employment displacement is taking place, or that the growth in warehousing jobs is too limited to spill over into broad-based employment gains for the overall local economy.”
The Economist similarly found that Amazon often pays its fulfillment center workers less than other employers do.
Amazon waded into the Mexican marketplace in 2015, a move that would help the company compete with fellow e-commerce giant Walmart. Amazon now has five fulfillment centers in the country, and Vano told Insider that the company has since created 15,000 jobs throughout Mexico.
Amazon announced last year that it was spending $100 million on new warehouses in Mexico to improve delivery speeds. Two fulfillment centers will go up in Monterrey and in Guadalajara, which are two of the largest metro areas in Mexico, and the company will have at least 27 delivery stations scattered across the country.
Mexico state Governor Alfredo Del Mazo Maza said Amazon’s expansion will help counteract pandemic-driven economic fallout in the country, according to Mexico News Daily.
“Amazon has become one of the principal allies and a strategic partner in the economic recovery and the fulfillment of objectives that have been laid out by the current administration to improve the level of well-being of Mexican families,” the governor said.
Amazon has advised the mom-and-pop companies operating its blue delivery vans to tell would-be drivers they won’t be screened for marijuana use, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
The direction by the e-commerce giant comes in the midst of a driver shortage that is causing disruptions to US supply chains, retailers, and mail services.
Dropping marijuana testing can hike job applications by up to 400%, Amazon said in correspondence to its delivery partners, seen by Bloomberg. Amazon didn’t clarify how it calculated this figure, Bloomberg said.
Screening prospective drivers for pot reduced job applications by 30%, Amazon said in the correspondence, per Bloomberg.
One of Amazon’s delivery partners appeared to be unhappy about the advice.
“If one of my drivers crashes and kills someone and tests positive for marijuana, that’s my problem, not Amazon’s,” one anonymous partner told Bloomberg.
Another said that marijuana was the main reason why prospective drivers failed drug tests, but since they stopped screening for it, they’d taken more drivers on board.
Some delivery partners told Bloomberg they were worried about insurance and legal risks in states that still criminalize pot. Others said they were concerned about drivers potentially smoking a joint before heading out to work.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg that testing applicants for pot has disproportionately impacted communities of color, which has stunted job growth. They also said Amazon employees who are “impaired” in the workplace would face serious consequences.
“If a delivery associate is impaired at work and tests positive post-accident or due to reasonable suspicion, that person would no longer be permitted to perform services for Amazon,” she said.
Amazon announced in June that it stopped drug testing for marijuana for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation. The retail giant said it backed legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana in the US.
You probably already know that Alexa is a virtual assistant used for Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Studio, and other smart speakers. You may not know that the Alexa app also works on iPhones and can be used even if you don’t have an Amazon device.
In the letter to the FCC, SpaceX called Amazon’s request a “continuation of efforts by the Amazon family of companies to hinder competitors to compensate for Amazon’s failure to make progress of its own.”
Amazon’s initial letter called for the FCC to require SpaceX to submit a new proposal because its proposal offered two options for how it would expand its satellite system, instead of one.
Starlink is part of Musk’s vision to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites that would deliver high-speed internet to customers anywhere on the planet. Amazon’s satellite-internet subsidiary – Kuiper Systems – has a similar vision, but is expected to take about a decade to fully deploy its planned 3,236 satellites. While the Starlink service is still in beta, the company has over 100,000 users in 14 countries so far. SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites to date, and its second generation project plans to have nearly 30,000 satellites in total.
The SpaceX letter pointed out that Bezos’ companies including Amazon and Blue Origin have averaged about one complaint every 16 days over the past year. It said that the lawsuit’s have “become a bigger bottleneck than the technology,” harking back to Bezos’ own words regarding the impact of regulatory issues like lawsuits and protests on the progress of his space company, Blue Origin.
SpaceX also said Amazon has been more focused on slowing down SpaceX than improving its own satellite project, pointing out that it needs to address issues related to orbital debris and radiofrequency interference before it can deploy its own satellite.
Customers in areas of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx will be able to have groceries collected by Instacart drivers from stores outside the city and delivered to their homes. Instacart is a same-day delivery service that pairs users with gig workers who shop for and deliver their orders.
Walmart previously offered grocery delivery in New York through its Jet.com service, which was shut down in 2020. Aside from this, the retail giant has made few moves into the New York City market and does not currently have stores there.
The move will allow Walmart to better compete with Amazon, which offers its Amazon Fresh delivery services for grocery in New York and has been ramping up speedy delivery options in urban areas.
“It’s about reaching more customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Journal, who said the retailer is using Instacart’s services in areas where it lacks stores.
Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has teamed up with Instacart. The two companies partnered in 2019 to offer grocery delivery services to 200 Walmart stores across Canada. In 2020, it extended these same-day delivery options to parts of the US, including California and Oklahoma.
At the time, Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea described the partnership as Walmart’s latest “salvo in its delivery arms race with Amazon.”
“Walmart will continue to leverage its 5,300-plus physical locations in the US, which is a compelling competitive advantage as it provides consumers with a same-day pick-up option, with same-day delivery augmenting this capability, creating a very powerful one-two punch,” he said, Insider’s Áine Cain reported in 2020.
Customers shopping on Amazon can now finance items of more than $50, thanks to a new partnership with Affirm – and those purchases won’t affect your credit score.
If you choose to use Affirm to finance your Amazon order, Affirm says it will run a “soft credit check” to determine the amount you can pre-qualify for. Such “soft” credit checks are commonly used by potential creditors (or employers) in cases that don’t reflect specific applications for credit.
“Each time a customer selects Affirm as a payment method at checkout on Amazon.com, they will go through a quick real-time credit decision process for each new order,” a spokesperson for Affirm told Insider. “This is a soft credit check that does not impact a customer’s credit score and does not cost anything. It enables Affirm to lend to consumers responsibly, while giving payment flexibility to as many people as possible.”
Affirm says that it will not report loans to Experian if the loan is 0% and set up on 4 biweekly payments, or if you’re only offered a three-month payment term with 0% at the time of the application.
The only factors that could affect your credit score are missed payments, your credit history using Affirm, how much credit you’ve used, and how long you’ve had credit.
During the pandemic, companies like Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna have becomes increasingly popular with people who may not have the money to pay the upfront total, but still want to make a purchase. Point-of-sales companies are more inviting to customers than credit card companies because of the lesser impact on credit scores.
“By partnering with Amazon we’re bringing the transparency, predictability and affordability that Affirm provides today to the millions of people who shop on Amazon.com in the U.S.,” Eric Morse, senior vice president of sales at Affirm, said in a press release. “Offering Affirm’s alternative to credit cards also delivers more of the payment choice and flexibility consumers on Amazon want.”
Current Music Unlimited members are eligible for three months of Disney Plus free of charge.
The promo is only available to new Disney Plus subscribers.
Free Trial with Amazon Music Unlimited (medium)
Amazon is bundling free trials of Disney Plus with its Music Unlimited service, giving subscribers access to a ton of streaming movies, shows, and songs for one low price.
New Music Unlimited subscribers can get six months of Disney Plus for free when they sign up for Amazon’s music service. Meanwhile, current and returning Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can get three months of Disney Plus for free. Once claimed, you have until July 2023 to redeem the offer, but it’s limited to new Disney Plus subscribers only.
An Amazon Music Unlimited subscription starts at $8 a month if you’re a Prime member, or $10 a month if you don’t have Amazon Prime. Disney Plus normally costs $8 a month, so the promotion can save you up to $48 in subscription fees.
After your free Disney Plus subscription ends, your plan will automatically continue for $8 a month unless you cancel. You must keep your Amazon Music Unlimited subscription active in order to maintain the offer.
Click “Get Started” and log in to your Amazon account.
Enter your payment information to sign up for Music Unlimited if you’re not already a member.
New subscribers will get six months of Disney Plus for free while current or returning members will get three months free.
Amazon will email you a link to sign up for Disney Plus with the free trial.
Free Trial with Amazon Music Unlimited (medium)
What Is Amazon Music Unlimited?
Amazon Music Unlimited allows subscribers to stream over 75 million songs, which is a huge step up over the two million songs that the company offers to all Prime members through its free Prime Music service.
This subscription costs $8 a month if you’re a Prime member, or $10 for non-Amazon Prime users. New this year is HD streaming for no extra cost. Music HD offers lossless audio tracks in CD-quality or higher. Music Unlimited is available on several devices including iOS, Android, and the web. The service is tightly integrated with Amazon’s Echo devices.
Who qualifies for free Disney Plus?
This promotion is only available to new Disney Plus subscribers. Once you receive the link for your free Disney Plus trial, you have until July 12, 2023 to redeem your subscription.