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  • Geebo 10:06 am on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, at will states, , ,   

    Is anybody really looking out for employees? 

    Is anybody really looking out for employees?

    It wasn’t too long ago in our country’s history when employers would take advantage of their employees to the point where it was just a step above slavery conditions. This resulted in the rise of labor unions where workers could collectively fight for better wages and working conditions. Thanks to the unions we now have provisions that are considered standard in many workforces such as 40 hour work weeks and weekends off. However, over the years, many unions became corrupt and bloated rife with nepotism and cronyism where the unions in question would make outrageous demands from management. This corruption resulted in some states passing legislation that made it illegal for anyone to be forced to join a union if they didn’t want to. These states are now called ‘at will’ states which is intended to mean that employees could work at will but along with that choice employers were given the power to fire employees at will. Now, most of the country’s workforce are stuck in situations where they are forced to sacrifice much of their personal lives in order to keep working.

    For example, mothers who work at Amazon are asking the company to provide backup daycare services for their kids. While not many employers offer this kind of service it shows how little some employers value their staff. Some reports even state that some female Amazon employees will hide the fact that they have children from their coworkers as not to be seen as ‘distracted’. It’s to the point where mothers at Amazon allegedly feel like they have little to no recourse if they are admonished for wanting to take care of their family. This is just one company’s example of how the workforce is being treated in our country. In other company’s employees don’t even have the benefits of an Amazon job. Healthcare benefits have eroded immensely over the past few decades as has paid time off.

    Labor laws and regulations need to be reexamined for today’s workforce. There has to be a happy medium somewhere between a labor union that could keep you out of work for weeks on strikes or keep you low on the union totem pole since you don’t know the right people and the at-will states where workers constantly worry if today is the day where they’ll be released for no apparent reason other than as a cost-cutting measure or they didn’t kowtow to the corporate culture at the price of their family. For our country’s workforce to thrive there needs to be equal give and take between employer and employee but right now it seems that the workers are the only ones doing any giving.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on March 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, Andrew Cuomo, , , ,   

    New York tries to lure Amazon back with full-page ad 

    New York tries to lure Amazon back with full page ad

    Long Island City, the proposed spot for HQ2

    Just like a lover who was spurned on Valentine’s Day, New York is trying to win back Amazon on both the state and city level. As you’ll recall, Amazon had originally picked Long Island City in the Borough of Queens to be the location where Amazon would construct its new corporate headquarters dubbed HQ2. Then after a groundswell of opposition by a number of politicians representing the community, Amazon announced on Valentine’s Day of this year that they would not be going forward with the project in Queens. Since the announcement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vociferously voiced his displeasure in those who opposed the Amazon deal citing Amazon would bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the state. Governor Cuomo is even reportedly working behind the scenes to try to bring Amazon back to New York City.

    To that end, not only has Cuomo been in communication with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but in today’s New York Times, a full-page ad has been taken out asking Amazon publicly to come back to New York. The open letter has been signed by such luminaries as the AFL-CIO labor union and former New York mayor David Dinkins.

    This past week, Governor Cuomo has insisted that 70% of New Yorkers were in favor of Amazon building HQ2 in New York, which may, in fact, be true. However, when it comes to picking a final location anywhere in the five boroughs will the local residents be in favor of Amazon coming to their part of town. I’m sure someone living in Brooklyn or Manhattan wouldn’t mind if Amazon chose to build a massive complex on Staten Island but the Staten Island residents may have an issue with them. Amazon can have both good and bad effects on any community it lands in. If New York really wanted to have a smooth process of bringing Amazon back it needs to find a community that would welcome Amazon in with open arms first.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on February 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , Sammy Musovic   

    Were NY Amazon protesters paid to be there? 

    Were pro-Amazon protesters paid to be there?

    While Amazon’s decision to not put their 2nd headquarters in New York remains a contentious issue in the Big Apple at least one positive outcome came out of the controversy. At least one Queens landlord was expecting to hike rents on his properties once Amazon moved in putting currently skyrocketing housing costs even more out of reach. Long Island City landlord Sammy Musovic reportedly put $1 million into renovating his properties in hopes of an influx of new Amazon employees needing housing in the area. When Amazon pulled out, Musovic organized a protest designed to get people to boycott the online retailer. The problem was with how the protest was allegedly organized.

    Patch.com is reporting that at least two protesters were paid to attend the event after responding to a craigslist ad looking for sign holders. Now two people being paid $30/hr. to be there doesn’t sound that bad but when you take into account only 10 protesters showed up to the Musovic-led protest it may be safe to assume that others were paid as well. In their report, Patch also included a text message between one of the protesters to one of the organizers and a video of protesters receiving cash for their services.

    While there is no law against paying people to carry signs for you, it does certainly damage the credibility of your objection. However, since Musovic took out a million dollar loan to make the renovations there is a distinct possibility that he may raise rents anyway to try to recoup his loss which in turn may the local housing market even more volatile as I’m sure there are people living in his properties already struggling to make their rent. It seems that once New York, both the state and the city, decided to engage in the Amazon HQ lottery it was doomed to have a negative impact on the city no matter what Amazon’s decision would have been.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on February 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, ,   

    Amazon’s alleged tax dodge is just the beginning 

    Amazon's alleged tax dodge is just the beginning

    Last week was not a good week PR-wise for Amazon, the company owned by the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos. Even before it was announced that Amazon was not going ahead with their second headquarters in New York, they were raked over the coals in the press for allegedly not having to pay any corporate income tax for this year and last year. Instead, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy published a report claiming that Amazon received multi-million dollar tax refunds.

    So how did this happen? According to the report from ITEP, it’s because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Congress passed in 2017 which was heavily backed by President Trump. It not only lowered corporate tax rates but it also failed to close loopholes that large corporations like Amazon could take further advantage of. This is somewhat ironic since President Trump has long criticized Amazon’s business practices while enabling a law that allows Amazon to supposedly continue those practices.

    So Amazon is not paying its ‘fair share’ taxes, what’s the big deal right? Well, it’s not just Amazon who is taking advantage of these new tax regulations. Netflix is another company that will reportedly pay no federal income tax this year either. How many other Fortune 500 companies will also look to take advantage of these loose corporate tax laws? Without corporate taxes being paid as they have been before 2017 tax increases could be passed on to an already overtaxed American public making the economic disparity in our country even worse.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on February 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , , Queens   

    Amazon dumps New York on Valentine’s Day 

    Amazon dumps New York on Valentine's Day

    In 2017, online retail leader Amazon announced that it was searching for a city to host its second corporate headquarters dubbed HQ2. Amazon’s initial headquarters in Seattle would remain while the new headquarters would potentially host up to 40,000 new jobs wherever Amazon ultimately chose to build it. In November of last year, Amazon finally decided on putting HQ2 in New York City, specifically Long Island City in the Borough of Queens. That was until yesterday when Amazon announced it was withdrawing from the deal due to local opposition.

    Many local politicians and residents opposed the new Amazon headquarters claiming that not only would the jobs go to those from outside of the area but it would also put a strain on an already crumbling infrastructure. Most importantly opponents to the new headquarters were concerned that the influx of Amazon employees would make the local housing crisis even worse. Those who were in favor of the new headquarters touted the tax revenue that would be brought into the city and the state and that would bring even more companies with more jobs and revenue to New York.

    However, the housing crisis question is one that can’t be ignored. In Amazon’s own hometown of Seattle, many local residents blame Amazon not only for rising housing prices but also disrupting old neighborhoods that for generations were well within the financial grasp of the middle class. Silicon Valley is an even more bleak example of how giant tech corporations have affected local housing markets as the San Francisco Bay area has been priced out of reach for almost all except the tech elite and the revenue generated by these companies does not seem to be providing many benefits to locals.

    What do you think? Did the residents of Queens make a mistake in driving Amazon away or were they justified in trying to protect their neighborhoods?

     
  • Geebo 10:15 am on January 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, make money on Amazon,   

    It’s not that easy to make money on Amazon 

    It's not that easy to make money on Amazon

    Have you ever come across an ad online that poses as an employment ad promising that you can make money beyond your wildest dreams? Usually, these ads are for Multi Level Marketing schemes or MLMs. MLMs usually require you to buy a certain amount of the product they’re trying to sell and then you have to not only try to sell the product but you have to try to get your friends to become marketers too. What these MLMs don’t tell you is that it’s almost mathematically impossible to get people underneath you on the MLM ladder to recruit more marketers. Now there’s a newer ploy that borrows heavily from MLMs and involves the biggest online retailer in the world, Amazon.

    According to The Atlantic, there is a cottage industry of people who want to teach you how to make incredulous wealth by becoming a third-party seller on Amazon. These classes are said to teach you how to sell cheap products made in China on Amazon for a huge markup. These so-called Amazon entrepreneurs often display the money they’ve made off of Amazon and imply that you can make the same kind of money. In reality, they’re usually more interested in getting you to sign up for their classes which can be priced in the thousands of dollars. If you search YouTube for how to make money on Amazon, you’ll find scores of videos like this.

    Much like the MLMs, these Amazon whisperers like to target people who are desperate to make a large amount of money quickly. Now to be fair, it is possible to make money on Amazon this way, however, it’s a very risky venture that could cause you to sink more money into the process and not see a lot of return. When dealing with any kind of financial investment you should never risk more than you can afford to lose since there are no guarantees that the investment will be successful. If you’re struggling to make ends meet then something like this is not for you as it requires a hefty initial investment of money that you probably can’t afford to lose. Remember, there really is no such thing as getting rich quick.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Amazon, , , ,   

    Fake Alexa app invades Apple app store 

    Fake Alexa app invades Apple app store

    If you were one of the scores of people who received the Amazon Echo for Christmas, you may want to make sure it was set up correctly. When you first set up your Echo device you need to use a smartphone or tablet app that is directly from Amazon itself. If you used a third-party app that wasn’t from Amazon you may have divulged a little more information that you should have and not to Amazon.

    It was reported yesterday that an app called “Setup for Amazon Alexa” rushed to the top of the Apple App Store’s popular apps after Christmas. The problem with this app is that not only was it not from Amazon but the app asked for much more information that should be given to a random app from the App Store, but you had to give it permission to collect all sorts of data from your iPhone or iPad in order to get your Echo to ‘work’. Of course, the app didn’t actually activate an Echo and received many complaints from Apple users.

    This is unusual for Apple as they have a very stringent process for allowing apps into their App Store. The app has since been pulled from the store but more than likely the damage has already been done to iOS users who already installed the malicious app to their Apple devices. If you are setting up any kind of device in your home that requires a mobile app to activate the device, always use the app from the manufacturer. If you’re having trouble finding it in the app store, go to the manufacturer’s website and they should have a link to the app you need. Below is a video showing you the proper way to activate your Amazon Echo.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, ,   

    The true cost of Prime Day 

    The true cost of Prime Day

    Later today, Amazon will kick off its annual summer version of Black Friday they call Prime Day. This means anyone with an Amazon Prime account will be able to get great deals on any number of items being offered by the online retail leader. According to an estimate by CNN Money, Amazon is expected to make $3.4 billion this year during its Prime Day rush. However, while you may get a great deal on an Amazon Echo delivered to your door, there’s a human cost to the slashed prices and marketing blitz of Prime Day.

    For the past few years, Amazon has been under fire for allegedly treating its employees at its fulfillment centers like so much chattel. According to a blistering expose released by the New York Times a few years ago, not only does Amazon supposedly overwork their employees in such a way that it’s often referred to as a sweatshop, but Amazon has also been accused of playing fast and loose with labor laws when it comes to its staffing practices. In many cases, an Amazon worker is ‘on the clock’ even when they’re not being paid because they need to be in constant contact with Amazon all hours of the day and night.

    As I posted around this time last year, many people refuse to shop at WalMart due to the supposed poor working conditions their employees have to endure, yet we have no trouble giving Amazon our money when their employees are treated just as bad or worse. Again, is it because we don’t ever see Amazon’s employees work so they’re out of sight and out of mind? Or is it because we value having indulgent computer boxes that we ask inane questions sent to our door with free shipping over the lives of the workers that bring them to us? Please consider that before making your next Amazon purchase.

     
  • Geebo 9:31 am on May 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, banned, , returns   

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns 

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns

    Amazon offers a lot of incentives to get customers to try to use their service extensively. For example, Amazon offers its Prime membership to its users so the customer can have free shipping for the length of their membership, usually paid in an annual fee. Another one of those features was Amazon’s easy return policy. However, while Amazon wants you to order as many items as possible they’ll send out for ‘free’, don’t send back too many or you may not be an Amazon customer anymore.

    Reports came out this week that Amazon was banning customers who made excessive returns. Amazon claims it’s to prevent fraudulent returns but many customers say they were banned even though they made reasonable returns. Like too many tech companies, Amazon relies on an algorithm to identify potential abusers and only worries about false positives if the banned customer calls to complain. Apparently, Amazon lives by the edict that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    Let’s be honest, mistakes happen in all retail spaces. Sometimes you get the wrong order or the product wasn’t exactly what you imagined when you received it. Now let’s translate Amazon’s policy to brick and mortar space. For example, Walmart has a very generous return policy. You can almost return a half-eaten fish stick to Walmart without a receipt and still get a refund. Now imagine you returned too many things to WalMart and you were not only banned from your local store but also from all the other Walmarts in the country.

    Amazon would do well to remember who it is that allows them to make all those billions of dollars in profit before customers start leaving their service without being banned.

     
  • Geebo 9:51 am on May 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, facial recognition,   

    Is Amazon watching us? 

    Is Amazon watching us?

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos not looking Orwellian at all.

    Ever since George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 it’s become a cliché to accuse whatever political party you’re opposed to of being Big Brother. What if it’s not the government you have to worry about surveilling us without our knowledge? Instead, what if it’s one of the largest corporations in the world? Amazon has found itself amid a controversy lately after many civil liberty groups have called upon Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software called Rekognition to police departments around the country.

    Now the advantages and drawbacks to law enforcement using such software can be debated ad nauseam. However, when you combine this Amazon technology with some other aspects of Amazon’s business a disconcerting picture starts to form. For example, how many of us have Amazon Echo’s in our homes with its microphone always listening for the command word from its user? Amazon claims the units aren’t recording our ambient conversations but that could potentially change at any time with just a firmware update.

    Yet the most ominous aspect of Amazon’s business holdings is the fact that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most respected media outlets in the Washington Post. Jim Morrison once said that “Whoever controls the media controls the mind” while Orwell himself said “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” While we’re not ones to usually indulge in conspiracy theories, separately these actions by Amazon can be seen as benign, but when looked at as a whole it shows a potential future where corporate monoliths can become so overreaching into our lives they could have almost unparalleled influence in our daily lives.

     
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