business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From Bloomberg:

" Inc. repeatedly violated federal labor law by unilaterally changing policies and terminating union supporters at its sole unionized warehouse, US labor board prosecutors alleged in a complaint, which also accuses Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy of personally making illegal anti-union comments.

"In a Monday filing, a National Labor Relations Board regional director wrote that Amazon illegally restricted employees’ ability to visit their unionized New York City warehouse during their time off, in order to discourage them from engaging in labor activism.

"The agency alleges Amazon changed its policy on off-duty workers’ access to the premises, as well as its practices on announcing and providing paid leave for Covid-19 cases, without negotiating with the union at the Staten Island facility. It also accuses the company of terminating two employees because of their involvement in the Amazon Labor Union. Amazon should be forced, among other measures, to rescind its off-duty access policy for at least three years, the complaint says."

And, the complaint says, Jassy violated federal labor law when he said in a CNBC interview that "union representation would make workers less empowered and would make it harder for them to have direct relationships with managers."

Bloomberg says that "complaints issued by NLRB prosecutors are heard by agency judges, whose rulings can be appealed to the labor board members in Washington, and then to federal court. The agency has the authority to order employers to reinstate workers and change policies, but not to fine them punitive damages or hold executives personally liable for violations."

•  The Seattle Times reports that "some Amazon employees in Seattle plan to walk off the job to show their frustration with recent layoffs, return-to-office mandates and a lack of action to address the company’s impact on climate change, organizers said.

"A group of workers are urging their colleagues to walk out on May 31, a week after Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting and a month after the company’s return-to-office mandate took effect … The action hinges on at least 1,000 Amazon employees from the company’s Seattle headquarters agreeing to participate in the one-day walkout."

The story notes that "the walkout would come after a year of cost-cutting measures that have affected nearly every part of Amazon’s sprawling business and led some employees to question how committed the company is to former CEO Jeff Bezos’ goal of becoming 'Earth’s Best Employer'."

•  From Bloomberg:

" Inc. will face a record 18 shareholder resolutions at its annual meeting this week, with outside groups urging the company to disclose more about its treatment of employees and more closely tie executive compensation to performance.

"Major shareholder advisory firms recommend investors approve calls for assessments of Amazon employees’ working conditions and freedom to organize, as well as the risks posed by the company’s sales of surveillance products. Between them, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. are urging investors to support five resolutions brought by outside shareholders.

"The two firms say shareholders should block the re-election of director Judith McGrath, chair of the board’s leadership and compensation committee, and recommends a no vote on a symbolic measure to ratify Amazon’s executive pay.

"The company’s annual meeting of shareholders, held virtually since the beginning of the pandemic, is scheduled for Wednesday. The shareholder resolutions and say-on-pay votes are nonbinding."

•  TechCrunch reports that Facebook parent company Meta "is throwing its hat into the ring to build the next major microblogging platform … This text-based app will stand alone, but it will be partially integrated within Instagram. Users will keep their Instagram verification and handle, and all of their followers will receive a notification to follow them on the to-be-named platform. Meta’s text-based platform will be decentralized and interoperable with Mastodon, which is built on the ActivityPub protocol."

The goal is to compete with Twitter, which some folks may sense is vulnerable to competition because of the antics of its owner, who, as I've said here before, seems to have all the impulse control of a 13-year-old on a sugar high.