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The economy - oops
A bankrupt St. Louis hospital fired its CEO/top doctor this week, effectively replacing him with the top accountant who fired him. She says "The chief focus at the moment is to bill."

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jge98...9-outbreak

Quote:A small hospital in St. Louis that serves a densely populated, low-income neighborhood fired its CEO and faces cutbacks and a potential shutdown just as the city is being hit with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Doctors and nurses say lives are at risk.

St. Alexius Hospital has struggled financially for years and is currently involved in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which are being overseen by a court-appointed trustee from out of state. The bankruptcy trustee, an accountant and CPA, fired the CEO, who is a doctor, earlier this week in the name of eliminating management redundancies. City leaders and hospital staffers alike fear the trustee could liquidate the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to overwhelm the city.

The trustee maintains that she believes the hospital can be solvent and remain operational, and that she is committed to supporting hospital staff. But while doctors answer to their patients, the trustee is obligated to take account of the interests of creditors and stakeholders. An important objective, she says, is to "maximize value."

According to interviews with St. Alexius’ former CEO, current doctors and staff, the trustee, St. Louis alderman Cara Spencer, and St. Louis mayor Lydia Krewson, as well as hospital documents and emails obtained by VICE, what’s happening at St. Alexius comes down to two groups of people trying to do their jobs in the middle of a national health crisis: The bankruptcy trustee and her team trying to maximize value, and doctors and public servants trying to care for patients and save lives.
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Instacart shoppers are planning a massive, nationwide strike on Monday because of the company's terrible response to coronavirus:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4agmv...ide-strike

Quote:Instacart shoppers are planning a nationwide mass revolt over the grocery delivery app's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, workers say they will refuse to accept orders until Instacart provides hazard pay of an additional $5 an order, free safety gear (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and soap) to workers, and expands its paid sick leave to include workers with pre-existing conditions who have been advised by their doctors not to work at this time. Workers say the strike will last until Instacart agrees to these terms.

The March 30 walkout will build on a wave of wildcat strikes sweeping across the country. In recent days, Amazon warehouse workers in Queens, New York, sanitation workers in Pittsburgh, and poultry plant workers at Perdue Farms in Georgia have all walked off the job, demanding greater protections from coronavirus, and leading to calls for a “general strike,” or mass strike action across the country. Meanwhile, the upcoming Instacart strike will mark the first time gig workers in the United States—who face the double bind of working on the front lines of virus and lacking basic labor protections like healthcare and paid sick days—have walked off the job in response to coronavirus.

“The health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority," a spokesperson for Instacart told Motherboard. "Our goal is to offer a safe and flexible earnings opportunity to shoppers, while also proactively taking the appropriate precautionary measures to operate safely. We want to underscore that we absolutely respect the rights of shoppers to provide us feedback and voice their concerns. It’s a valuable way for us to continuously make improvements to the shopper experience and we’re committed to supporting this important community during this critical time.”

In a blog post Friday morning, Instacart announced several “new features and offerings” to address Covid-19, which address none of the gig workers’ demands.
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Here's more on that Pittsburgh garbage collectors strike mentioned in the above article.

The article's a few days old.

https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/03/...-walk-out/

Quote:Garbage could be piling up across the city of Pittsburgh as sanitation workers refused to report for work on Wednesday morning.

Some of them said they are not being given enough protective gear as the coronavirus continues to spread through the area.

The parking lot of the city’s sanitation building was packed with men and women who are usually out on trucks.

They have a list of demands for the city before they continue their work.

“I say if we don’t pick up your rubbish, what’re you going to do with it?” asked Pittsburgh Environmental Services employee Tom Foley.

Emotions ran high as dozens of sanitation workers for the city refused to to work.

“We are risking our lives, we could be contaminated as well,” said Sheldon White.

Deemed essential services during the statewide shutdown, White said the least the city could do is give the workers the protection they need to do their jobs.

“We want better equipment, better protective gear, we have no masks,” he explained. “We want hazard pay.”

Their concerns over the spreading coronavirus continue to rise. Foley said a worker’s wife is quarantined and they were never notified. But the city says the the Environmental Services headquarters was cleaned and sanitized overnight after the report was made.

Neither the worker nor his wife is showing symptoms but as a precaution the worker has been placed in self-quarantine, with pay.

“There’s several people here who are diabetic, including myself, so if I catch this I could die,” Foley said. “There’s a bunch of people, how many of you are diabetic?”

As the workers wait for answers, they’re looking to Mayor Bill Peduto who said the trash will always be picked up.

In response, the mayor’s office says they are following CDC guidelines for protecting the workers. Plus, they tell KDKA the workers are given gloves to wear and were offered extra plastic gloves to wear underneath.

In a news release, Peduto said: “Environmental Services workers are on the front lines of the City’s pandemic response and are performing a great public service to their fellow residents. We all need to come together in this time of need, and to continue supporting the personnel – including police, medics, firefighters and others – who are protecting us at this time.”
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Macy's will be furloughing most of its employees:

https://www.mediaite.com/news/macys-to-f...-outbreak/

Quote:Macy’s announced on Monday that it will furlough the majority of its 130,000 employees due to the “heavy toll” the coronavirus has had on business.

"While the digital business remains open, we have lost the majority of our sales due to the store closures,” the retailer stated in a press release. “We’ve already taken measures to maintain financial flexibility, including suspending the dividend, drawing down our line of credit, freezing both hiring and spending, stopping capital spend, reducing receipts, cancelling some orders and extending payment terms, and we are evaluating all other financing options.”

“Across Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations. This means the majority of our colleagues will go on furlough beginning this week,” the statement continued.

According to the New York Times, “Macy’s had 130,000 part-time and full-time employees as of Feb. 2.”

All Macy’s stores have been closed since March 18, will stay shut “until we have clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen.” The retailer claimed they “expect to bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes.”
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General Electric workers who normally make jet engines have walked off the job to demand that their factories are converted to make ventilators instead:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3mjx...entilators

Quote:On Monday, General Electric factory workers launched two separate protests demanding that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. At GE's Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility, workers held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company’s Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

These protests come just after General Electric announced it would be laying off 10 percent of its domestic aviation workforce, firing nearly 2,600 workers, along with a “temporary” layoff of 50 percent of its maintenance workers in a bid to save the company "$500 million to $1 billion.” This news came as Congress stood ready to pass a multi-trillion dollar corporate bailout that would include at least $50 billion in federal assistance and $25 billion in loans and temporary tax relief for the aviation industry, as well as a further $17 billion for federal assistance to companies deemed "crucial to national security." GE says it does not plan to request funds from the stimulus.

In a press conference, members of the Industrial Division of Communication Workers of America (IUE-CWA) explained how General Electric’s current layoffs and closures would undermine future efforts to increase ventilator production. Without experienced workers to operate now empty and idle factories, production will likely be slowed down.
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Right, sure, that's why he was fired:

https://twitter.com/DaveLeeFT/status/124...5854131200

Quote:Amazon has confirmed it fired Chris Smalls, a worker who helped organise a protest at its Staten Island fulfillment centre today. The company has said Mr Smalls was sacked for, among other things, "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk".
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(03-27-2020, 05:29 PM)Iron Maiden Wrote: A bankrupt St. Louis hospital fired its CEO/top doctor this week, effectively replacing him with the top accountant who fired him. She says "The chief focus at the moment is to bill."

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jge98...9-outbreak

Quote:A small hospital in St. Louis that serves a densely populated, low-income neighborhood fired its CEO and faces cutbacks and a potential shutdown just as the city is being hit with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Doctors and nurses say lives are at risk.

St. Alexius Hospital has struggled financially for years and is currently involved in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which are being overseen by a court-appointed trustee from out of state. The bankruptcy trustee, an accountant and CPA, fired the CEO, who is a doctor, earlier this week in the name of eliminating management redundancies. City leaders and hospital staffers alike fear the trustee could liquidate the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to overwhelm the city.

The trustee maintains that she believes the hospital can be solvent and remain operational, and that she is committed to supporting hospital staff. But while doctors answer to their patients, the trustee is obligated to take account of the interests of creditors and stakeholders. An important objective, she says, is to "maximize value."

According to interviews with St. Alexius’ former CEO, current doctors and staff, the trustee, St. Louis alderman Cara Spencer, and St. Louis mayor Lydia Krewson, as well as hospital documents and emails obtained by VICE, what’s happening at St. Alexius comes down to two groups of people trying to do their jobs in the middle of a national health crisis: The bankruptcy trustee and her team trying to maximize value, and doctors and public servants trying to care for patients and save lives.

Health care shouldn't be a "for profit" industry.  Basically every nation with a modern economy has realized this and implemented some form of a single payer system.  Except, of course, for the United States.  Because guys Joe Biden are supporters of Big Insurance.

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The financial industry persuaded Congress to reject a moratorium on recording missed and late payments in credit reports during coronavirus. 

That means some people who lose jobs could take a hit to their credit scores:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-coronavi...1585668691
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Pay your bills, peasants!

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Still feels weird every time I read that a hospital is run by a CEO. That's like a brothel being run by a priest.

Imagine a little kid saying "When I grow up, I want to go to business school so I can learn how to run a hospital!"

I should get a 2 year business degree, then maybe I'll be qualified to be the CEO of a homeless shelter. "Let's turn those beds people, churn and burn. More bedbugs equals more profit."
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Like a church run by a whore.
If I could change to liquid, I'd fill the cracks and bend the rocks.
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Hobby Lobby employees are growing anxious over the company's recklessness in staying open in various states, and police have intervened once already to close one:

https://www.businessinsider.com/hobby-lo...wns-2020-3

Quote:As Hobby Lobby continues its mission to keep doors open in the face of the coronavirus, the arts-and-crafts retailer is quietly reopening stores around the country, defying states' stay-at-home policies. 

On Monday, the company resumed business in several states where it had been forced to temporarily close. A March 28 memo obtained by Business Insider equipped managers with talking points for "how to respond and communicate if visited by a local authority that asks why we are open." 

In a separate leaked note sent last week, executives wrote that the company "is going to make every effort to continue working the employees."

The reopenings include stores in Ohio and Wisconsin — which both enacted strict shelter-in-place orders on March 24 — where nearly all Hobby Lobby locations have been reopened after shuttering for only one week. During calls Business Insider made to each location, employees confirmed that all 19 Hobby Lobby locations in Ohio were open as of Monday afternoon, as were 17 out of 20 stores in Wisconsin that were still listed as "temporarily closed" on Google. 

Of the three stores closed in Wisconsin, at least one was forcibly shuttered by police officers after briefly opening on Monday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. An employee at that store told Business Insider on Monday it was closed but that employees were there "working on projects." A similar incident was reported in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where local authorities forced a store to close after it was open for one hour on Monday morning, the CBS-affiliated news outlet WLKY reported. 

Hobby Lobby did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Despite mandates in at least 32 states calling for the closure of nonessential businesses, Hobby Lobby appears to be doing everything in its power to avoid shutting its doors.

Four Hobby Lobby employees in North Carolina, Ohio, and another state in the Midwest — who spoke with Business Insider on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution but whose employment statuses and identities have been confirmed — said they continued to receive contradictory instructions regarding store operations. 

"The main thing is they're not really telling us anything," one employee in Ohio said. "Last Monday we closed because we were a nonessential business basically, and that was fine with me. Not even four days later, we're reopened because they're saying we're essential now."

The employee, who is also a military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, said his attempts to contact the Ohio Department of Health and the office of Gov. Mike DeWine have gone unanswered.

"My wife is pretty furious. We're trying to take care of my mother who had knee surgery and also has multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease. I don't want to bring it home and get her infected," he said. "I used to love working for this company, but since this pandemic, I've seen how callous and irresponsible it has been."

"This has all been so stressful and exhausting," an employee in a nearby Midwestern state, where stores have yet to close despite mandates from lawmakers, said. "I don't want to stay home because I'm too lazy to work. I want to stay home to do my part to stop the spread of the virus."

Elsewhere, in states such as Colorado and North Carolina — which enacted stay-at-home protocols in the past few days — Hobby Lobby is avoiding shutting down altogether, insisting it is "essential" because it sells educational materials and products for home-based businesses. 

However, employees told Business Insider they were frustrated by these justifications, given that Hobby Lobby does not sell universally accepted essential items like food, toiletries, medicine, and cleaning products. While big-box stores like Walmart and Target provide services widely considered essential, craft stores are not on the list, nor are they included in guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security. 

"They are not exempt," Conor Cahill, the press secretary for Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, told The Denver Post regarding Hobby Lobby on Monday.

Adding to their frustration, two employees said the company's warehouse in Oklahoma City has been closed until further notice, meaning stores aren't even able to restock the inventory that managers and executives are claiming are essential.

"Hobby Lobby is fighting that we are an essential store," a Hobby Lobby employee in North Carolina said. "There is absolutely nothing in Hobby Lobby worth spreading this illness. I'm honestly appalled at this company and the way it doesn't care for its employees and only about making their money."

The employees said they were worried about their personal safety and a lack of resources needed to maintain a clean and sanitized workspace. The North Carolina employee said her team was not allowed to wear gloves or masks while working because management told them "it would make customers uncomfortable."

Others are concerned their stores aren't equipped with adequate cleaning supplies or the manpower needed to clean effectively. Hobby Lobby executives began slashing jobs and cutting salaries last week to cut costs in states with stores required to close because of state regulations.

"Management is being so secretive and won't be open with what's going on," another Ohio employee wrote in an email to Business Insider. "We also don't have the employees to do the extensive cleaning that they say we are doing on the website because payroll keeps telling management to cut hours. I'm just very anxious about this whole thing and don't understand why no one is helping us employees out with this situation."
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This 28 year old landlord owns fifty single family homes. Her father, Bronco Brnardic, is the chair of the West Deer Republican Committee, for the record:

https://www.post-gazette.com/business/de...2003310090

Quote:Rent is due Wednesday for all 50 of the single-family rental houses that Anne Marie Whitesitt manages in West Deer, East Deer and Lawrenceville.

Her tenants usually pay on time. But this month, she said, about half of them have already let her know they recently lost their main source of income due to the COVID-19 shutdown and they may have trouble paying the April rent. She said she asks them if they have applied for unemployment yet? Or have they applied for a bank loan, since rates are low?

“I try to give them other options,” said Ms. Whitesitt, 28, of West Deer. “Because not paying rent isn’t an option.”

She owns the rental properties, along with other investors who expect to receive a return on their investments. She can empathize with tenants who are out of work. Her father Bronco Brnardic’s general contracting company, Brnardic Corp., was closed down, too. 

“I have felt the impact of the shutdown in my own family. But also, this is a business. If they don’t pay me, I can’t pay my mortgage payments,” she said. “The question is, how long do you let this go on for? And will they ever catch up? If you lose $1,000 a month for five months for five houses, that adds up quickly.”

And, then, there's this guy:

Quote:Canonsburg-based real estate investor Brett Schaltenbrand owns a portfolio of single-family rental houses in several North Hills and South Hills suburban communities. He has been trying to keep in touch with all of his renters to find out who can and can’t pay rent this month. For the most part, he doesn’t expect to see a severe decline with April rent collections.

What he does see is opportunity to expand his business.

“I’m prepared to acquire more property from people who can’t handle their portfolio,” said Mr. Schaltenbrand, 37. 

“I see people mismanaging property and people who are over-leveraged and I’m hoping to be able to capitalize on that. There will be a lot of people who can’t manage their portfolios and looking to liquidate. That is one of the upsides I am patiently waiting for.”
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"Ohio state agencies are looking to cut 20% in spending, and Cincinnati is furloughing 1,700 city workers. Georgia may have to renege on a $1,000 pay raise for teachers that state House lawmakers had budgeted for in the coming year."

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/...f=vuYGislZ

Quote:The coronavirus is threatening to blow a massive hole in U.S. state and city budgets as millions of people stay home, workers are idled and the stock market flounders.

New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, is projected to lose between $10 billion and $15 billion of revenue in the fiscal year that starts Wednesday. Ohio state agencies are looking to cut 20% in spending, and Cincinnati is furloughing 1,700 city workers. Georgia may have to renege on a $1,000 pay raise for teachers that state House lawmakers had budgeted for in the coming year. California is already dipping into reserves and has warned state agencies not to expect full funding next year.

States, cities and counties rely on revenue from taxes on income, sales of goods and even on gains from the stock market -- all sources of money that the virus threatens to wipe out as the U.S. is poised for a recession. Despite the unprecedented federal stimulus package that includes $150 billion for states and municipalities, officials like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio say more help is needed to make up the funds that local governments are losing, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for “significantly more” aid for states.

Moody’s Analytics is advising policy makers to expect no less than a 10% hit to their general fund budgets, with the actual losses likely being much larger for most states, said Dan White, the firm’s head of public sector research. That’s calculated off a baseline expectation that second quarter gross domestic product will decline 15% to 20% from a year earlier, “which is almost unprecedented,” he said.
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Noted swamp swimmer Rick Perry on America's oil industry: "I'm telling you, we are on the verge of a massive collapse of an industry that we worked awfully hard, over the course of the last three or four years, to build up to the number one oil and gas producing country in the world, giving Americans some affordable energy resources." 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/verge-massive...02853.html

Quote:Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes that the oil industry could collapse because of the dramatic decrease in demand worldwide caused by the coronavirus outbreak and a steep decline in prices. 

"Our capacity is full. The Saudis are flooding this market with cheap oil," Perry told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. "I'm telling you, we are on the verge of a massive collapse of an industry that we worked awfully hard, over the course of the last three or four years, to build up to the number one oil and gas producing country in the world, giving Americans some affordable energy resources." 

Many U.S. states and countries around the world have ordered their citizens to stay home in order to contain the spread of the virus. And airlines have dramatically cut back on flights as the number of passengers has fallen off. Fewer cars on the road and planes in the sky means far less demand for oil.

Coupled with a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia that has resulted in an oil surplus, the price for crude as well as gasoline has plunged. The national average for gas in the U.S. is now below $2 a gallon. 

Perry, a former governor of oil-producing Texas, said that could destroy smaller, independent companies and hurt the people who depend on them for jobs.

"There's this host of Americans who their entire future – taking care of their family paying their mortgages – is tied directly to the energy industry," Perry said. "It's a driver of a massive amount of our American economy." 

And he said the loss of those smaller companies would have long term consequences for the American consumer. 

"If we woke up a year from now, and there were five big companies because all of these independents were gone out of business ... I would suggest that would make a lot of Americans really nervous," he said. 

Perry's concerns appeared prescient Wednesday after the Whiting Petroleum Corporation announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In announcing the decision, CEO Bradley Holly cited "the severe downturn in oil and gas prices driven by uncertainty around the duration of the Saudi / Russia oil price war and the COVID-19 pandemic." 

As one measure to address the crisis, Perry said that he would advise President Donald Trump to tell refineries to only use U.S. crude oil for 60 to 90 days. 

Perry said that would "give a buffer to the market" and "send a clear message that we're just not going to let foreign oil flow in here" and "bust our oil industry." 

U.S. national security is at stake, Perry said. 

"If our independent operators – who have led the shale revolution, who have made America the number one gas-producing country in the world – if we lose that, we'd go back to 1974," Perry said. "I remember what that was like, where we were beholden to countries that didn't necessarily have our best interests in mind." 

Perry also suggested that the Treasury Department should buy up oil futures to help buoy the industry. 

Perry was one of the longest-serving members of Trump Cabinet before he resigned in October amid scrutiny of his role in the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump's impeachment. 
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Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership reveal executives' true feelings on unions:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dm8b...articulate

Quote:Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership obtained by VICE News reveal company executives discussed a plan to smear fired warehouse employee Christian Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” wrote Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky in notes from the meeting forwarded widely in the company.

The discussion took place at a daily meeting, which included CEO Jeff Bezos, to update each other on the coronavirus situation. Amazon SVP of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney described the purpose to CNN on Sunday: “We go over the update on what's happening around the world with our employees and with our customers and our businesses. We also spend a significant amount of time just brainstorming about what else we can do” about COVID-19.

Zapolsky’s notes also detailed Amazon’s efforts to buy millions of protective masks to protect its workers from the coronavirus, as well as an effort to begin producing and selling its own masks. So far, the company has secured at least 10 million masks for “our operations guys,” with 25 million more coming from a supplier in the next two weeks, Zapolsky wrote.

Amazon fired the warehouse worker Smalls on Monday, after he led a walkout of a number of employees at a Staten Island distribution warehouse. Amazon says he was fired for violating a company-imposed 14-day quarantine after he came into contact with an employee who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Smalls says the employee who tested positive came into contact with many other workers for longer periods of time before her test came back. He claims he was singled out after pleading with management to sanitize the warehouse and be more transparent about the number of workers who were sick.

Zapolsky’s notes from the meeting detail Amazon’s plan to deal with a wave of bad press and calls for investigations from elected officials following the firing of Smalls. They also show top Amazon brass wanted to make Smalls the focus of its narrative when questioned about worker safety.

“We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety,” Zapolsky wrote. “Make him the most interesting part of the story, and if possible make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

They discussed encouraging Amazon executives to use Smalls to discredit the wider labor movement at Amazon. Employees at the warehouse, known as JFK8, launched an effort to unionize in 2018.

In his notes, Zapolsky wrote that there was “general agreement” on this point among the other attendees of the meeting. (Zapolsky’s notes also mention SVP of worldwide operations and customer service Dave Clark and SVP of human resources Beth Galetti.)

In a statement to VICE News, Zapolsky said his “comments were personal and emotional.”

“I was frustrated and upset that an Amazon employee would endanger the health and safety of other Amazonians by repeatedly returning to the premises after having been warned to quarantine himself after exposure to virus Covid-19,” he said. “I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me.”
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Let's take a look at the things that fossil fuel industry has tried to do since the pandemic!  

I take none of the credit for this assemblage, for the record.  Jamie Henn corrals this information, so others don't have to.

The National Mining Association is lobbying to get out of paying into the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund that provides healthcare for 20,000 sick coal miners:

https://www.nationofchange.org/2020/03/2...-covid-19/

Senate Republicans are proposing that oil and gas companies no longer have to make royalty payments:

http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/20...letter.pdf

As mentioned in another thread, the American Petroleum Institute got the Environmental Protection Agency to stop enforcing environmental and public health protections indefinitely:

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-enviro...oronavirus

The fossil fuel industry is lobbying the government to spend $3 billion that could go to coronavirus relief on buying a bunch of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:

https://apnews.com/54cd988eea89176a3cb3329e258ac8ad

Fossil fuel companies are continuing pipeline construction even though it could spread the coronavirus, threatening the health and safety of workers and communities:

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1062702737

The Bureau of Land Management is continuing to issue new oil and gas leases at ridiculously low prices, selling off our public lands to the fossil fuel industry:

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1062629183

Right-wing state legislators are partnering with the fossil fuel industry to pass a wave of anti-protest bills so they can ram forward new pipeline projects:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pipeline-...6a7a2aab41

The Alberta Government just provided a $1 billion loan and over $4 billion in loan guarantees to TC Energy to build the Keystone XL pipeline. This came just days after the province laid off over 20,000 education workers amid claims of being cash-strapped:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/...-1.5513803

Oil and gas companies want some of that CARES money, so they're doing various financial tricks:

https://www.ft.com/content/116fe93a-6fe7...0ba9738743

Oil and gas companies are big fans of the slush fund:

https://earther.gizmodo.com/how-fossil-f...1842510430

The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) bailed out Capital One Bank after they made a bunch of super risky commodities trades in the oil and gas sector:

https://stopthemoneypipeline.com/capital-one-bailout/

Trump’s EPA is allowing the sale of dirtier “winter fuel” gasoline during COVID-19, worsening air quality in the midst of a pandemic:

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-enviro...line-sales

Whiting Petroleum Corp, the first major fracking company to go bust during the crisis, provided $14.6 million in cash bonuses for top executives, including $6.4 million for CEO Brad Holly, just days before filing for bankruptcy:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/...bankruptcy

Ohio-based Murray Energy, the largest private coal miner in the U.S., is asking the judge overseeing its Chapter 11 bankruptcy to let it shed certain health-care obligations:

https://www.post-gazette.com/business/po...2004010059

On behalf of the oil and gas industry, the Trump administration is appealing a federal ruling that canceled a $125 million lease sale on public lands:

https://www.eenews.net/greenwire/2020/04...1062760509
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Various food workers are striking:

https://paydayreport.com/latina-workers-...va-strike/

Quote:With many food workers being forced to work as essential workers during COVID-19, workers are increasingly striking to draw attention to unsafe conditions. On Friday, workers at food plants in Virginia and Illinois walked off the jobs over dangerous conditions.

Friday’s wildcat strikes by food processing workers are part of a growing nationwide movement of food processing workers, who are walking off the job.

Earlier this week, 1,000 immigrant workers, members of UFCW Local 7, walked off the job in Colorado. Last week, non-union poultry workers in Georgia walked off the job to protest unsafe conditions.

This morning in Timberville, Virginia workers walked off the processing line at Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant after one co-worker tested positive for COVID-19. 8 other workers have gone into quarantine after close contact with the worker. 

Experts say that food processing plants are breeding grounds for COVID-19. 

“Workers in poultry plants, where there may be over 1,000 workers a day, work very close together, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with knives and scissors, making thousands of cuts a day to produce the chicken pieces we buy in the supermarkets,” says former Obama-era OSHA Chief of Staff Debbie Berkowitz, who now serves as Worker Health and Safety Program Director at the National Employment Law Project. 

“On a normal day, many never get to the bathroom, because there is little time to go when they are on the line and breaks are too short for all to use the bathroom. This makes these workplaces a real hot spot for the spread of COVID 19,” says Berkowitz 

Workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant say that the company has left them in the dark about what is happening after a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19. 

“They worked us all day, they didn’t tell us, and we didn’t know how long that they have known,” Pilgrim’s Pride Ann Polk told WHSV. “When we left, I guess we heard they quarantined eight people; we want to know who these people are. and if we came into contact with them.”
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FedEx's CEO went on Face the Nation two weeks ago and said they're providing gloves, masks and other safety supplies to its workers. Video taken in a Wisconsin distribution center tells a different story:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/m7qdw...rent-story

Quote:On Sunday, March 22, FedEx chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith went on Face the Nation to talk about how the novel coronavirus is affecting the U.S. economy, and to make a few specific claims about how his company is keeping workers safe. "We have massive efforts underway in all of our facilities to try to socially distance folks and their workstations," Smith told interviewer Margaret Brennan. “We're providing gloves and all kinds of antiseptic swabs and things of that nature.”

It’s been over two weeks since Smith made that claim, and at least two separate outlets—the New York Times and NBC News—have since raised questions about safety standards for FedEx employees during the COVID-19 crisis. (The Times piece focused on the private shipping industry as a whole, interviewing employees from UPS as well.) Now, a worker from one of FedEx’s distribution centers in Wisconsin told VICE they’re still not receiving basic sanitary protections. There were only one or two bottles of hand sanitizer provided for the whole facility, the worker said, which were long empty on their most recent workday last week. No one has been provided work-issued gloves or masks, they say. And no one is able to stay six feet apart, all basic benchmarks for helping slow the spread of COVID-19. (Wisconsin’s governor issued a Safer At Home order on March 24, prohibiting non-essential travel and requiring individuals to stay six feet apart in public spaces. Wisconsin public health officials have echoed the CDC in calling for people to wear cloth masks when leaving home.)

“It’s not happening,” the worker said, referring to receiving sanitary supplies or practicing social distancing. (They have been granted anonymity to freely discuss their working conditions, because they feared retribution for speaking out.) “We haven’t been offered masks, gloves, nothing. We had a little table with supplies on it. The Clorox wipes disappeared. There’s a hand sanitizer bottle with nothing in it. Nobody in the factory is wearing gloves."
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Big retailers may be left out of federal programs to help struggling businesses because their debt isn't investment grade:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/...cares-act/

Quote:Tens of thousands of stores have closed. Nearly a million retail workers have been furloughed.

Yet one of the most difficult questions facing economic policymakers is whether to aid the nation’s struggling retailers, a group that was declining before the novel coronavirus pandemic and is now one of the hardest hit by it.

The $2 trillion stimulus legislation authorized by Congress last month contains hundreds of billions for businesses to save jobs and restart the economy. The Federal Reserve has made available billions of dollars of loans for struggling companies, too.

But without further action by officials, little of that money will flow to retail companies such as Macy’s, Gap or J.C. Penney. The reason: After years of losing ground to online competition and diminished mall traffic, some retailers might not be able to repay the government.

Their fragility, in other words, is what could disqualify them from the rescue.

As officials at the Treasury Department and the Fed craft rescue programs, they must strike a balance between the desire to limit the pandemic’s economic calamity against the need to safeguard taxpayer money.

Lobbyists for retailers, which employ more than 4 million salespeople, are emphasizing the massive job losses that could occur in the absence of federal help, as well as the harm it could do to their suppliers and landlords.

Federal officials “should be thinking through the employment problem that could occur if these companies don’t get help,” David French, senior vice president of the National Retail Federation, said in an interview. “We’re working with officials at Treasury and the Federal Reserve to ensure the broadest array of retail needs are taken into account.”
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Hundreds of workers at 30 different fast food restaurants in California are going on strike tomorrow to demand COVID-19 protections:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kzyx...-on-strike

Quote:Hundreds of cooks and cashiers at 30 fast food restaurants across California plan to strike on Thursday—demanding that McDonald’s and other fast food chains provide masks, gloves, soap, $3-an-hour hazard pay, and two weeks of paid sick leave to workers exposed to COVID-19.

Workers from Burger King, Taco Bell, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, Popeye’s, El Pollo Loco, and WaBa Grill will participate in the walkout, which was inspired by two strikes earlier this week at McDonald's locations in San Jose and Los Angeles, where two workers have now tested positive for coronavirus. Organizers at the Fight For $15 campaign, which has helped coordinate Thursday’s strike, say that this is the first time they’ve seen spontaneous walkouts in nearly eight years of the movement. Typically, it takes months to plan something of this scale.

“I’m very afraid for my life and the life of my daughter who also works at McDonald’s,” Maria Ruiz, a 46-year-old cashier at the McDonald’s location in San Jose who has been on strike since Monday and will participate in Thursday’s action, told VICE in Spanish. “Workers are scared of retaliation but we’re not going to wait for one of us to die or get sick with the virus.”

Verli Godinez, a worker at a McDonald’s location in Los Angeles who tested positive for coronavirus, said she was particularly upset when she learned about her positive test on Wednesday because McDonald’s had not provided her with protective gear or communicated quickly enough with employees when they found out another worker had tested positive earlier this week.

“I decided to go on strike on Sunday because I was afraid of getting sick, and now I know my fears were founded,” Godinez told VICE in Spanish. “McDonald’s should be responsible for paying every worker at our location to quarantine.” Godinez said her McDonald’s franchise owner will be paying her two weeks of sick leave.

On Thursday, strikers from many of the participating chains will converge in their cars at “drive-in” picket lines at McDonald’s locations in Los Angeles and Oakland, and then a virtual Zoom picket line later in the day.
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Good read on the backlash some companies have faced since the spotlight is now on workers:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/...-to-strike
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Well, I officially don't like these people:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/tech/inst...index.html

Quote:In late March, Instacart worker Annaliisa Arambula accepted a grocery order that came with a big tip: $55. The store was just down the street, everything the customer wanted was available, and the order seemed to go off without a hitch.

But an hour later, Arambula checked her earnings on the Instacart app and the entire tip was gone, with a message saying the "customer modified the tip post-delivery." She ended up making just $8.95 from Instacart on the order.

"I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it," Arambula told CNN Business.

Demand for grocery delivery is surging amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and many customers are struggling to get the items they want or even a time slot for a delivery. Some people are dealing with that by offering big tips, as high as $50 or more, to entice Instacart workers to pick up their orders. But some of those people have turned the tactic into a bait-and-switch, offering up the big tip and then taking it away as soon as the person who risked their health to get them their groceries has made the delivery.

Before accepting a "batch" -- which can consist of one or a few orders from different customers -- workers can see the items requested, the store location, the payment Instacart provides workers for the job, and the tip being offered. Instacart allows customers to change a tip for up to three days. Some workers told CNN Business tips can make up half of their income or more.

"It's very demoralizing," said Arambula, who lives in the Portland, Oregon, area and has worked full-time for Instacart since June 2017. "I don't pretend to be a hero, like a nurse in a hospital ... but I literally am exposing myself [to coronavirus] and when I return home, exposing my own family to the possibility of transmitting this disease. When you know that it's somebody who's just doing it to game the system and to get their order when they want it, it's really frustrating." Arambula's husband is currently unemployed and at high risk for Covid-19 because he has diabetes, so they are relying on her work for Instacart to pay their bills.

Instacart is one of several delivery companies now expanding rapidly due to demand spurred by the pandemic. Last month, the company announced plans to bring on another 300,000 full-service shoppers in North America to service the increased demand.

An Instacart spokesperson told CNN Business the vast majority of people in March adjusted their tip upward or did not adjust their tip after delivery. Moreover, the spokesperson said, the company recently removed the "none" tip option for people, so users who want to tip nothing must manually change a tip to $0. The spokersperson said this could deter users from doing so. People can also leave feedback and rate a worker in the app, something Instacart claims typically happens if and when a person removes a tip.
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Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder and CEO of the investment firm Social Capital, said that the U.S. shouldn’t be bailing out billionaires and hedge funds during the coronavirus pandemic:

https://twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/statu...8464025606

It's a hell of a video.
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Congratulations to The Dow!

[Image: EVPwkoIUUAI31Qz?format=jpg&name=large]
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(04-10-2020, 12:36 AM)Iron Maiden Wrote: Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder and CEO of the investment firm Social Capital, said that the U.S. shouldn’t be bailing out billionaires and hedge funds during the coronavirus pandemic:

https://twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/statu...8464025606

It's a hell of a video.

Was going to link this.  Nice to see folk are paying at least some attention to what's going on behind the curtain in terms of bailing out billionaires and big business ... again ....

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The customers that zero out their tips on Instacart are extremely shitty. However,

-The app is built to allow it
-The gig app system is already weighted against the worker, since without tips they can't make more than the equivalent of minimum wage for their total time/gas expenses
-This creates a hostile dynamic between customer and worker, where the worker feels they are owed a certain level of tip to make each delivery worth the investment. The blame is shifted away from the app company, distracting from the fact that they are paying out less than minimum wage after expenses to their " independent contractors"

-In the case of the Instacart app in particular (I'm not %100 certain on this), an extra layer of gamification is added on by displaying the prospective tip amount along with the details of an order waiting to be claimed. This means orders with a higher estimated/promised tip are more likely to be claimed and delivered first.
-This puts customers that tip in cash at a disadvantage. Some tip cash on purpose to make sure the app doesn't take a cut out of it before it gets into the worker's pocket. An app like Ubereats will pay the worker a lower base fee if they get tipped over a certain amount!

In summation, the entire gig app system is fucked. This goes way beyond a few shitty customers. 90% of the true blame is on the app companies (and, well, the general shittiness of humanity, lack of regulations and oversight, etc)

Don't use these exploitive apps unless you have no other option to safely get groceries in your area. Try deliveries directly from a market or grocery store operated service if you can.
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(04-10-2020, 10:57 AM)fuzzy dunlop Wrote: Congratulations to The Dow!

[Image: EVPwkoIUUAI31Qz?format=jpg&name=large]

The Dow Jones surged 700 points the day after Sanders ended his presidential campaign.
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Banks have been given the green light by regulators to take the $1,200 CARES Act payments and use them to offset an individual's existing debts:

https://prospect.org/coronavirus/banks-c...pay-debts/

Quote:This week, the $1,200 CARES Act payments Congress approved in response to the coronavirus crisis will begin to appear in Americans’ bank accounts. The funds will be wired to eligible recipients who previously authorized the IRS to post their refunds (or Social Security payments) through direct deposit. This will speed relief far more quickly than having the IRS mail a check, which could take up to five months.

But the money may not make it into the hands of those who need it to pay bills, buy food, or just survive amid mass unemployment and widespread suffering. Individuals might first have to fend off their own bank, which has just been given the power to seize the $1,200 payment and use it to pay off outstanding debt.

Congress did not exempt CARES Act payments from private debt collection, and the Treasury Department has been reluctant to exempt them through its rulemaking authority. This means that individuals could see their payments transferred from their hands into the hands of their creditors, potentially leaving them with nothing.

Banks would be first in line to grab the payments to offset a delinquent loan or past-due fees. Even if the individual thinks their account with that bank is closed, if the payments post there, the bank could conceivably use them to cover old debts.

The Treasury Department effectively blessed this activity on a webinar with banking officials last week. In audio obtained by the Prospect, Ronda Kent, chief disbursing officer with Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, can be heard explaining that banks had posed questions to her about “whether these payments could be subject to collection from the bank to which the money is deposited, if the payee owes an outstanding loan or other payments to the bank.” She responded—twice—that “there’s nothing in the law that precludes that action,” while counseling that the banks’ compliance officers should consult with their legal offices about what policies their banks will implement. “You will want to know for your bank what your bank has decided to do,” Kent said.
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The hard copy versions of those economic impact checks from the government will be delayed for at least several days thanks to a last minute demand from the President that his name appear on them.

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5e965...d140045899

The money quote:
Quote:However, the U.S. president is not an authorized signer for payments made by the Treasury.
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He can't just resist being the worst fucking asshole alive can he?
Originally Posted by ImmortanNick 

Saw Batman v Superman.
Now I know what it's like to see Nickelback in concert.

That's my review.
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It's a gift.

I mean, could sit here all day and not think of the stupid, venal, evil shit that just comes naturally to him.
Gamertag: Tweakee
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"I lost him because of that horrible place," said Angelita, 73, through a translator. "Those horrible people and their supervisors, they're sitting in their homes, and they're happy with their families."

https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/c...994502001/

Quote:Angelita Rodriguez feels her husband was worked to death.

The 64-year-old Sioux Falls man, Augustín Rodriguez, showed up for every one of his shifts at Smithfield Foods, where he worked for nearly two decades. Augustín kept coming to work even after he began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms like fever and cough because he needed to work.

It wasn't until there was sharp pain in his side that he called in sick three days before he was hospitalized on April 4, his wife said. On April 9, she received a call from Avera telling her to self-quarantine because her husband tested positive for COVID-19.

He was placed on ventilators for about two weeks. He died Tuesday morning.

Augustín's death is presumed to be the first connected to a COVID-19 outbreak at Smithfield Foods meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls, which has become the largest coronavirus hot spot in the nation with 644 confirmed cases tied to the facility.

Smithfield did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but the Argus Leader independently verified Augustín's employment with the company. The South Dakota Department of Health has also yet to confirm his death, though previous deaths from the virus have been reported several days after they occurred as the department waits for death certificates.

Through her grief, Angelita doesn't blame God for her husband's death. She doesn't blame the coronavirus, either.

She blames Smithfield.

"I lost him because of that horrible place," said Angelita, 73, through a translator. "Those horrible people and their supervisors, they're sitting in their homes, and they're happy with their families."
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A blast from the past, but this Twitter thread on Solyndra from someone who worked on the law is really good:

https://twitter.com/micarrdc/status/1250487141152559104

Quote:The myth of Solyndra drives me a little nuts. I was the Senate Energy staffer in charge of financing programs - worked on the original program in the 2005 law, wrote the modifications creating "1705" in ARRA, and created the ATVM program for vehicle manufacturing.

So, I've lived quite a bit of this program. A few points about Solyndra. First, Republicans wanted it to be a story about corruption - that Obama political actors channeled money friends and made a bad deal for the taxpayers in the process. This is unadulterated bullshit.

Solyndra was one of the first applications in the door during the Bush Admin. It had been in process for a long time and was simply the application that was farthest along. The head of the loan office at the time was a career guy (former OPIC).

Neither he, nor any of the politicals had any interests in Solyndra and the private sector investors were donors, like most rich people, to both parties. And the pressure to move loans from Congress was certainly bipartisan. I watched Domenici yell in many hearings about it.

Those private sector investors, BTW, lost about $1 billion on Solyndra, far more than the US loan. Was Solyndra a bad bet? Not when they started. Here is what polysilicon prices looked like at the time.

   

It was the key price driver for solar and looked like it would rise forever. Look at that run up in 2008 as solar began to take off in Germany and the US! The theory behind Solyndra was maximize to production of this expensive substance.

By rolling it in a tube, and encasing it in glass, you could not only use the direct rays, but the ones that reflected back off the white painted roof. Plus, since it didn't catch wind like traditional panels, you could put it on old, big, flat roofs like warehouses.

All in, particularly with easier installation, Solyndra racks were very competitive with traditional solar, and they could be used in some applications that traditional panels couldn't. With technology improvements, Solyndra had a path to beating the big players.

So, what happened? In a word, China. China went all in on solar manufacturing and not only started flooding the market with cheap panels, they brought a huge amount of polysilicon smelting on line and flooded the market.

Bringing back this chart, you can see that between the global economic crisis driving down demand and an explosion in supply, the price of polysilicon dropped from almost $500 per kg to under $100 per kg, in about a year!

A fundamental premise of Solyndra's value proposition, that polysilicon was precious and should be used sparingly to maximum efficiency, was turned on its head. Suddenly solar panels were a cheap commodity. Great for the world, not great for engineering-intensive Solyndra.

Was this predictable? Maybe, but lots of people bet big money against this outcome and lost. It happens all the time in technology. Did the taxpayers lose out? Hard to say. Solyndra built manufacturing in the US that wouldn't otherwise have been here.

Millions of dollars were spent on US suppliers and thousands of workers over several years worked and paid taxes and spent money in the US that might not have otherwise been spent. We also minted a bunch of engineers that have gone on to do good things in clean energy.

The biggest loss is how much it scared us from trying to good things anymore. If it had happened a year earlier, we might not have loaned to Tesla and Nissan. We wouldn't have returned auto manufacturing to the CA NUMMI plant, wouldn't have battery manufacturing in TN.

Probably wouldn't be a global leader in EV manufacturing. Or maybe it would have been fine, since then Solyndra would have been under Bush and Republicans would have shrugged and said that "it's just the way innovation works."

Anyway, one good thing is, we have a new heuristic. As soon as someone starts ranting about Solyndra as a boondoggle or an example of how government can't do good things, you know they are an ignorant ideologue. You can safely ignore the rest of the words from their mouth.
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Isn't China the world's leading producer of the mineral assets that go into state of the art solar panels? One of the least discussed risks of solar was always going to be that it would make China the new Saudi Arabia, complete with control over the commodities market.
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