ratcheting down gas deliveries to several European countries.

Across the continent, countries are preparing blueprints for emergency rationing that involve caps on sales, reduced speed limits and lowered thermostats.

As is usually the case with crises, the poorest and most vulnerable will feel the harshest effects. The International Energy Agency warned last month that higher energy prices have meant an additional 90 million people in Asia and Africa do not have access to electricity.

Expensive energy radiates pain, contributing to high food prices, lowering standards of living and exposing millions to hunger. Steeper transportation costs increase the price of every item that is trucked, shipped or flown — whether it’s a shoe, cellphone, soccer ball or prescription drug.

“The simultaneous rise in energy and food prices is a double punch in the gut for the poor in practically every country,” said Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, “and could have devastating consequences in some corners of the world if it persists for an extended period.”

Group of 7 this past week discussed a price cap on exported Russian oil, a move that is intended to ease the burden of painful inflation on consumers and reduce the export revenue that President Vladimir V. Putin is using to wage war.

Price increases are everywhere. In Laos, gas is now more than $7 per gallon, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com; in New Zealand, it’s more than $8; in Denmark, it’s more than $9; and in Hong Kong, it’s more than $10 for every gallon.

Leaders of three French energy companies have called for an “immediate, collective and massive” effort to reduce the country’s energy consumption, saying that the combination of shortages and spiking prices could threaten “social cohesion” next winter.

increased coal production to avoid power outages during a blistering heat wave in the northern and central parts of the country and a subsequent rise in demand for air conditioning.

Germany, coal plants that were slated for retirement are being refired to divert gas into storage supplies for the winter.

There is little relief in sight. “We will still see high and volatile energy prices in the years to come,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency.

At this point, the only scenario in which fuel prices go down, Mr. Birol said, is a worldwide recession.

Reporting was contributed by José María León Cabrera from Ecuador, Lynsey Chutel from South Africa, Ben Ezeamalu from Nigeria, Jason Gutierrez from the Philippines, Oscar Lopez from Mexico and Ruth Maclean from Senegal.

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Retail Workers Increasingly Fear for Their Safety

Assaults at stores have been increasing at a faster pace than the national average. Some workers are tired of fearing for their safety.


There was the customer who stomped on the face of a private security guard. Then the one who lit herself on fire inside a store. The person who drank gasoline and the one who brandished an ax. An intoxicated shopper who pelted a worker with soup cans. A shoplifter who punched a night manager twice in the head and then shot him in the chest.

And there was the shooting that killed 10 people, including three workers, at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colo., in March 2021. Another shooting left 10 more people dead at a Buffalo grocery store last month.

In her 37 years in the grocery industry, said Kim Cordova, a union president in Colorado, she had never experienced the level of violence that her members face today.

F.B.I. said, more than half the so-called active shooter attacks — in which an individual with a gun is killing or trying to kill people in a busy area — occurred in places of commerce, including stores.

“Violence in and around retail settings is definitely increasing, and it is a concern,” said Jason Straczewski, a vice president of government relations and political affairs at the National Retail Federation.

Tracking retail theft is more difficult because many prosecutors and retailers rarely press charges. Still, some politicians have seized on viral videos of brazen shoplifting to portray left-leaning city leaders as soft on crime. Others have accused the industry of grossly exaggerating losses and warned that the thefts were being used as a pretext to roll back criminal justice reforms.

“These crimes deserve to be taken seriously, but they are also being weaponized ahead of the midterm elections,” said Jonathan Simon, a professor of criminal justice at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School.

While the political debate swirls about the extent of the crime and its causes, many of the people staffing the stores say retailers have been too permissive of crime, particularly theft. Some employees want more armed security guards who can take an active role in stopping theft, and they want more stores to permanently bar rowdy or violent customers, just as airlines have been taking a hard line with unruly passengers.

Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, did not respond to requests for comment.

Some unions are demanding that retailers make official accommodations for employees who experience anxiety working with the public by finding them store roles where they don’t regularly interact with customers.

it was revealed that the retailers were hounding falsely accused customers.

The industry says it is putting much of its focus on stopping organized rings of thieves who resell stolen items online or on the street. They point to big cases like the recent indictment of dozens of people who are accused of stealing millions of dollars in merchandise from stores like Sephora, Bloomingdale’s and CVS.

But it’s not clear how much of the crime is organized. Matthew Fernandez, 49, who works at a King Soopers in Broomfield, Colo., said he was stunned when he watched a thief walk out with a cart full of makeup, laundry detergent and meat and drive off in a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V.

“The ones you think are going to steal are not the ones doing it,” he said. “From high class to low class, they are all doing it.”

Ms. Barry often gives money to the homeless people who come into her store, so they can buy food. She also knows the financial pressures on people with lower incomes as the cost of living soars.

When people steal, she said, the company can write off the loss. But those losses mean less money for workers.

“That is part of my raise and benefits that is walking out the door,” she said. “That is money we deserve.”

Ella Koeze contributed reporting.

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Ryanair says less than 2% of flights affected by strike

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A Ryanair plane prepares to take off from Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport on the first of three days cabin crew strike in Lisbon, Portugal, June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

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DUBLIN, June 26 (Reuters) – Less than 2% of Ryanair (RYA.I) flights scheduled between Friday and Sunday were affected by cabin crew strikes, the Irish low-cost carrier said.

Ryanair (RYA.I) cabin crew unions in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France and Italy had announced plans for action over the weekend with crews in Spain set to strike again on June 30 and July 1-2. read more

“Less than 2% of Ryanair’s 9,000 flights operating this weekend (24/25/26 June) have been affected by minor and poorly supported crew strikes,” Ryanair said in a statement.

Unions have said the Irish airline does not respect local labour laws covering issues such as the minimum wage and have urged management to improve working conditions. read more

Ryanair, which told Reuters last week it had negotiated labour agreements covering 90% of its staff across Europe, says it offers staff competitive and fair conditions. It has said it does not expect widespread disruption this summer.

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Writing by Conor Humphries. Editing by Jane Merriman

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Blackstone Completes Acquisition of Crown Resorts in the Firm’s Largest Investment to Date in Asia

MELBOURNE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Blackstone (NYSE: BX) today announced that real estate funds and private equity funds managed by Blackstone (“Blackstone”) have completed the acquisition of Crown Resorts Limited (“Crown”) in the largest transaction to date for the firm in Asia Pacific. The transaction comprises three premium resort and casino properties in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Blackstone will work with the management team at Crown and its thousands of dedicated employees, as well as their representatives from the United Workers Union and other partner unions, to transform these properties into world-class entertainment destinations and continue Crown’s transformation to operate at the highest standards of compliance, governance, and integrity.

As one of Australia’s largest entertainment groups, Crown makes a major contribution to the Australian economy. Crown’s core businesses include two of Australia’s leading integrated resorts, Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth, as well as Sydney’s latest premium hotel resort and dining precinct at Crown Sydney.

Alan Miyasaki, Head of Real Estate Acquisitions Asia, Blackstone, said: “We are thrilled to become the new owner of Crown, bringing our expertise in hospitality to help the company achieve its full potential as a leading travel and leisure company. We first invested in Crown two years ago, seeing the tremendous underlying potential of the company and its people. We look forward to working with the teams at Crown and applying our experience in owning and operating marquee hospitality brands around the globe with the highest levels of ethics and integrity to create something unique for employees, local communities, and visitors.”

Chris Tynan, Head of Real Estate Australia, Blackstone, said: “This is a great opportunity that plays to Blackstone’s strengths – investing significant capital and resources to rebuild Crown into an iconic destination for travel and leisure that everyone can be proud of. Blackstone has built a strong Australian presence over the last 12 years. We look forward to supporting the local economy, creating jobs, and attracting visitors to Crown’s exceptional properties.”

Steve McCann, Crown Resort’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Today, Crown emerges as part of the Blackstone family, which is the start of a new era for this great company and its 20,000 team members. Over recent times, Crown has undergone immense transformation, and we know under Blackstone’s ownership, we will realize our vision to deliver world-class entertainment experiences and a safe and responsible gaming environment.

Australian tourism has entered a recovery phase, and we believe this trend will continue. Crown’s suite of outstanding assets has built a loyal customer base over the past 28 years, and we are excited about the opportunities ahead of us as we revitalize Melbourne and Perth and celebrate the addition of Sydney. With Blackstone’s investment and expertise, we’re confident Crown will cement its place on the global stage as one of the world’s leading owners and operators of integrated resorts,” he said.

Blackstone has built a strong track record in the wider hospitality, travel, and leisure sectors. The firm completed the sale of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas this year, after transforming the property into one of the most vibrant destinations on the Las Vegas Strip. During its 8-year ownership, Blackstone implemented significant operational changes, developed best-in-class management team, and invested significant capital to renovate 3,000 guest rooms and enhance F&B offerings. In addition, Blackstone owned Hilton Hotels Corporation for 11 years, during which it helped double the size of the company to more than 5,300 properties and 400,000 employees worldwide. Its other recent investments in these sectors include the acquisition of an 8-hotel portfolio across Japan’s top tourist destinations; acquisition of Bourne Leisure, a premier British holiday company; and joint acquisition of Extended Stay Hotels.

About Crown Resorts

Crown Resorts is one of Australia’s largest entertainment companies, owning and operating a suite of world-class integrated resorts. Its property portfolio includes three award-winning resorts in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, as well as London’s prestigious Crown Aspinalls, a high end, boutique casino in the West End.

For 25 years, Crown Melbourne has been Australia’s leading luxury integrated resort and casino, offering guests a range of exceptional entertainment and event experiences; premium hospitality, dining, spa and retail; and gaming. Crown Perth is Western Australia’s only integrated resort and casino, and features a combined 1188 hotel-room capacity, expansive lagoon and private pools, and 33 bars and restaurants. Crown’s newest property, Crown Sydney, opened in December 2020 setting a new standard in luxury hotel and dining experiences. Crown Sydney is the tallest building in New South Wales, and features 349 hotel rooms and villas, 13 signature restaurants, a VIP, members only casino which is due to open shortly, two pools, a spa, and Crown’s first ever luxury serviced apartment offering.

As one of Australia’s largest hospitality employers, Crown’s properties support the employment of a diverse mix of over 20,000 people.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is the world’s largest alternative asset manager. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our $915 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, infrastructure, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow @blackstone on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Why a Rhodes Scholar’s Ambition Led Her to a Job at Starbucks

Most weekend mornings, Jaz Brisack gets up around 5, wills her semiconscious body into a Toyota Prius and winds her way through Buffalo, to the Starbucks on Elmwood Avenue. After a supervisor unlocks the door, she clocks in, checks herself for Covid symptoms and helps get the store ready for customers.

“I’m almost always on bar if I open,” said Ms. Brisack, who has a thrift-store aesthetic and long reddish-brown hair that she parts down the middle. “I like steaming milk, pouring lattes.”

The Starbucks door is not the only one that has been opened for her. As a University of Mississippi senior in 2018, Ms. Brisack was one of 32 Americans who won Rhodes scholarships, which fund study in Oxford, England.

in public support for unions, which last year reached its highest point since the mid-1960s, and a growing consensus among center-left experts that rising union membership could move millions of workers into the middle class.

white-collar workers has coincided with a broader enthusiasm for the labor movement.

In talking with Ms. Brisack and her fellow Rhodes scholars, it became clear that the change had even reached that rarefied group. The American Rhodes scholars I encountered from a generation earlier typically said that, while at Oxford, they had been middle-of-the-road types who believed in a modest role for government. They did not spend much time thinking about unions as students, and what they did think was likely to be skeptical.

“I was a child of the 1980s and 1990s, steeped in the centrist politics of the era,” wrote Jake Sullivan, a 1998 Rhodes scholar who is President Biden’s national security adviser and was a top aide to Hillary Clinton.

By contrast, many of Ms. Brisack’s Rhodes classmates express reservations about the market-oriented policies of the ’80s and ’90s and strong support for unions. Several told me that they were enthusiastic about Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who made reviving the labor movement a priority of their 2020 presidential campaigns.

Even more so than other indicators, such a shift could foretell a comeback for unions, whose membership in the United States stands at its lowest percentage in roughly a century. That’s because the kinds of people who win prestigious scholarships are the kinds who later hold positions of power — who make decisions about whether to fight unions or negotiate with them, about whether the law should make it easier or harder for workers to organize.

As the recent union campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Apple show, the terms of the fight are still largely set by corporate leaders. If these people are increasingly sympathetic to labor, then some of the key obstacles to unions may be dissolving.

suggested in April. The company has identified Ms. Brisack as one of these interlopers, noting that she draws a salary from Workers United. (Mr. Bonadonna said she was the only Starbucks employee on the union’s payroll.)

point out flaws — understaffing, insufficient training, low seniority pay, all of which they want to improve — they embrace Starbucks and its distinctive culture.

They talk up their sense of camaraderie and community — many count regular customers among their friends — and delight in their coffee expertise. On mornings when Ms. Brisack’s store isn’t busy, employees often hold tastings.

A Starbucks spokesman said that Mr. Schultz believes employees don’t need a union if they have faith in him and his motives, and the company has said that seniority-based pay increases will take effect this summer.

onetime auto plant. The National Labor Relations Board was counting ballots for an election at a Starbucks in Mesa, Ariz. — the first real test of whether the campaign was taking root nationally, and not just in a union stronghold like New York. The room was tense as the first results trickled in.

“Can you feel my heart beating?” Ms. Moore asked her colleagues.

win in a rout — the final count was 25 to 3. Everyone turned slightly punchy, as if they had all suddenly entered a dream world where unions were far more popular than they had ever imagined. One of the lawyers let out an expletive before musing, “Whoever organized down there …”

union campaign he was involved with at a nearby Nissan plant. It did not go well. The union accused the company of running a racially divisive campaign, and Ms. Brisack was disillusioned by the loss.

“Nissan never paid a consequence for what it did,” she said. (In response to charges of “scare tactics,” the company said at the time that it had sought to provide information to workers and clear up misperceptions.)

Mr. Dolan noticed that she was becoming jaded about mainstream politics. “There were times between her sophomore and junior year when I’d steer her toward something and she’d say, ‘Oh, they’re way too conservative.’ I’d send her a New York Times article and she’d say, ‘Neoliberalism is dead.’”

In England, where she arrived during the fall of 2019 at age 22, Ms. Brisack was a regular at a “solidarity” film club that screened movies about labor struggles worldwide, and wore a sweatshirt that featured a head shot of Karl Marx. She liberally reinterpreted the term “black tie” at an annual Rhodes dinner, wearing a black dress-coat over a black antifa T-shirt.

climate technology start-up, lamented that workers had too little leverage. “Labor unions may be the most effective way of implementing change going forward for a lot of people, including myself,” he told me. “I might find myself in labor organizing work.”

This is not what talking to Rhodes scholars used to sound like. At least not in my experience.

I was a Rhodes scholar in 1998, when centrist politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were ascendant, and before “neoliberalism” became such a dirty word. Though we were dimly aware of a time, decades earlier, when radicalism and pro-labor views were more common among American elites — and when, not coincidentally, the U.S. labor movement was much more powerful — those views were far less in evidence by the time I got to Oxford.

Some of my classmates were interested in issues like race and poverty, as they reminded me in interviews for this article. A few had nuanced views of labor — they had worked a blue-collar job, or had parents who belonged to a union, or had studied their Marx. Still, most of my classmates would have regarded people who talked at length about unions and class the way they would have regarded religious fundamentalists: probably earnest but slightly preachy, and clearly stuck in the past.

Kris Abrams, one of the few U.S. Rhodes Scholars in our cohort who thought a lot about the working class and labor organizing, told me recently that she felt isolated at Oxford, at least among other Americans. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like there was much room for discussion,” Ms. Abrams said.

typically minor and long in coming.

has issued complaints finding merit in such accusations. Yet the union continues to win elections — over 80 percent of the more than 175 votes in which the board has declared a winner. (Starbucks denies that it has broken the law, and a federal judge recently rejected a request to reinstate pro-union workers whom the labor board said Starbucks had forced out illegally.)

Twitter was: “We appreciate TIME magazine’s coverage of our union campaign. TIME should make sure they’re giving the same union rights and protections that we’re fighting for to the amazing journalists, photographers, and staff who make this coverage possible!”

The tweet reminded me of a story that Mr. Dolan, her scholarship adviser, had told about a reception that the University of Mississippi held in her honor in 2018. Ms. Brisack had just won a Truman scholarship, another prestigious award. She took the opportunity to urge the university’s chancellor to remove a Confederate monument from campus. The chancellor looked pained, according to several attendees.

“My boss was like, ‘Wow, you couldn’t have talked her out of doing that?’” Mr. Dolan said. “I was like, ‘That’s what made her win. If she wasn’t that person, you all wouldn’t have a Truman now.’”

(Mr. Dolan’s boss at the time did not recall this conversation, and the former chancellor did not recall any drama at the event.)

The challenge for Ms. Brisack and her colleagues is that while younger people, even younger elites, are increasingly pro-union, the shift has not yet reached many of the country’s most powerful leaders. Or, more to the point, the shift has not yet reached Mr. Schultz, the 68-year-old now in his third tour as Starbucks’s chief executive.

She recently spoke at an Aspen Institute panel on workers’ rights. She has even mused about using her Rhodes connections to make a personal appeal to Mr. Schultz, something that Mr. Bensinger has pooh-poohed but that other organizers believe she just may pull off.

“Richard has been making fun of me for thinking of asking one of the Rhodes people to broker a meeting with Howard Schultz,” Ms. Brisack said in February.

“I’m sure if you met Howard Schultz, he’d be like, ‘She’s so nice,’” responded Ms. Moore, her co-worker. “He’d be like, ‘I get it. I would want to be in a union with you, too.’”

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Biden to unveil economic partnership for Americas – U.S. official

A LAPD helocopter flies near the LA Convention Center during the first day of the Ninth Americas Summit in Los Angeles, U.S., June 6, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

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WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will announce this week at the Summit of the Americas an economic partnership for the Western hemisphere focusing on promoting economic recovery by building on existing trade agreements, U.S. administration officials said on Monday.

Dubbed the “Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity”, the plan will cover five areas including mobilizing investments, reinvigorating institutions, clean energy jobs, resilient supply chains and sustainable trade.

“The overall objective is to build our economies from the bottom up and middle out by building on the foundation established by our free trade agreements with the region to better address inequality and lack of economic opportunity,” a senior administration official told reporters in a call.

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The plan would aim to offer an alternative in a region where China has been expanding its sphere of influence. It was unclear, however, how many countries in economically troubled Latin America would buy into such an arrangement.

The United States is hosting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, a gathering where Biden aims to address regional migration and economic challenges. On Monday, the White House said it was not inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, prompting Mexico’s president to skip the event.

The summit is being convened in the United States for the first time since the first such gathering in Miami in 1994, as Biden seeks to reassert U.S. leadership and counter China’s growing clout. He is due to formally open the summit on Wednesday.

Biden will put forward “an ambitious reform” of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the official said, adding that the United States would also seek an equity stake at the bank’s private sector lending arm to support the deployment of private capital.

“Because the private sector has a central role to play,” the official said.

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas think tank, told a Senate subcommittee last week that the Biden administration should push for a regional trade initiative similar to the one for the Indo-Pacific that Biden announced during his Asia tour in May.

But the idea of creating a hemisphere-wide trade bloc has never gotten off the ground, partly because of protectionism sentiment among U.S. labor unions and some lawmakers.

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Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Los Angeles; Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates

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How Jack Welch’s Reign at G.E. Gave Us Elon Musk’s Twitter Feed

When Jack Welch died on March 1, 2020, tributes poured in for the longtime chief executive of General Electric, whom many revered as the greatest chief executive of all time.

David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Discovery and a Welch disciple, remembered him as an almost godlike figure. “Jack set the path. He saw the whole world. He was above the whole world,” Mr. Zaslav said. “What he created at G.E. became the way companies now operate.”

Mr. Zaslav’s words were meant as unequivocal praise. During Mr. Welch’s two decades in power — from 1981 to 2001 — he turned G.E. into the most valuable company in the world, groomed a flock of protégés who went on to run major companies of their own, and set the standard by which other C.E.O.s were measured.

Yet a closer examination of the Welch legacy reveals that he was not simply the “Manager of the Century,” as Fortune magazine crowned him upon his retirement.

broken up for good.

the fateful decision to redesign the 737 — a plane introduced in the 1960s — once more, rather than lose out on a crucial order with American Airlines. That decision set in motion the flawed development of the 737 Max, which crashed twice in five months, killing 346 people. And while a number of factors contributed to those tragedies, they were ultimately the product of a corporate culture that cut corners in pursuit of short-term financial gains.

Even today Boeing is run by a Welch disciple. Dave Calhoun, the current C.E.O., was a dark horse candidate to succeed Mr. Welch in 2001, and he was on the Boeing board during the rollout of the Max and the botched response to the crashes.

When Mr. Calhoun took over the company in 2020, he set up his office not in Seattle (Boeing’s spiritual home) or Chicago (its official headquarters), but outside St. Louis at the Boeing Leadership Center, an internal training center explicitly built in the image of Crotonville. He said he hoped to channel Mr. Welch, whom he called his “forever mentor.”

The “Manager of the Century” was unbowed in retirement, barreling through the twilight of his life with the same bombast that defined his tenure as C.E.O.

He refashioned himself as a management guru and created a $50,000 online M.B.A. in an effort to instill his tough-nosed tactics in a new generation of business leaders. (The school boasts that “more than two out of three students receive a raise or promotion while enrolled.”) He cheered on the political rise of Mr. Trump, then advised him when he won the White House.

In his waning days, Mr. Welch emerged as a trafficker of conspiracy theories. He called climate change “mass neurosis” and “the attack on capitalism that socialism couldn’t bring.” He called for President Trump to appoint Rudy Giuliani attorney general and investigate his political enemies.

The most telling example of Mr. Welch’s foray into political commentary, and the beliefs it revealed, came in 2012. That’s when he took to Twitter and accused the Obama administration of fabricating the monthly jobs report numbers for political gain. The accusation was rich with irony. After decades during which G.E. massaged its own earnings reports, Mr. Welch was effectively accusing the White House of doing the same thing.

While Mr. Welch’s claim was baseless, conservative pundits picked up on the conspiracy theory and amplified it on cable news and Twitter. Even Mr. Trump, then merely a reality television star, joined the chorus, calling Mr. Welch’s bogus accusation “100 percent correct” and accusing the Obama administration of “monkeying around” with the numbers. It was one of the first lies to go viral on social media, and it had come from one of the most revered figures in the history of business.

When Mr. Welch died, few of his eulogists paused to consider the entirety of his legacy. They didn’t dwell on the downsizing, the manipulated earnings, the Twitter antics.

And there was no consideration of the ways in which the economy had been shaped by Mr. Welch over the previous 40 years, creating a world where manufacturing jobs have evaporated as C.E.O. pay soars, where buybacks and dividends are plentiful as corporate tax rates plunge.

By glossing over this reality, his allies helped perpetuate the myth of his sainthood, adding their own spin on one of the most enduring bits of disinformation of all: the notion that Jack Welch was the greatest C.E.O. of all time.

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Amazon’s captive staff meetings on unions illegal, labor board official finds

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May 6 (Reuters) – A U.S. labor board official believes Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) violated federal law during mandatory staff meetings it held in New York City to discourage unionizing, a board spokesperson said on Friday, in what could lead to a new legal precedent.

The Amazon Labor Union alleged the retailer forced workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island to attend the so-called captive audience trainings and said staff were threatened with dismissals if they joined the ALU, according to an amended complaint and an audio recording the union shared with Reuters.

The regional director of the Brooklyn-based office of the National Labor Relations Board has found merit to the allegations, in a potential first regarding captive-audience practices, board spokesperson Kayla Blado said. If the parties do not settle, the Brooklyn division will issue a complaint against Amazon that could be litigated up to the NLRB at the federal level.

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The NLRB’s Brooklyn region includes the borough of Staten Island.

An Amazon manager in March told workers that if they voted to organize, unions could bargain for a contract clause that “would require Amazon to fire you if you don’t want to join the union and pay union dues,” according to the recording the ALU shared.

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said, “These allegations are false and we look forward to showing that through the process.” Mandatory meetings have been legal for over 70 years and were commonly held by employers, Amazon said.

The NLRB precedent that the meetings are legal dates to the 1940s.

The New York warehouse elected to join the ALU within weeks of the March incident, becoming the first Amazon facility to vote to unionize in the United States. Amazon is contesting the result.

Amazon’s meetings have been a flashpoint for labor organizers who for years sought to represent workers at the second-largest U.S. private employer but lacked an equal venue to counter the company’s point of view.

Seth Goldstein, a pro bono attorney representing the ALU, said, “We hope that Amazon will cease their meritless objections to our overwhelming election victory and will instead focus on ending their unlawful union-busting practices.”

Last month, the NLRB’s top lawyer, Jennifer Abruzzo, asked the board to ban businesses from making workers attend anti-union meetings, calling them inconsistent with employees’ freedom of choice. In a future case, Abruzzo said she would ask the board to overturn the precedent that the meetings are legal.

President Joe Biden, considered the most pro-union U.S. president in decades, last year appointed Abruzzo as general counsel, a position independent from the five-member NLRB.

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Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, Calif.; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Starbucks CEO Schultz says days of ‘false promises’ are over, article with image

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Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz delivers remarks at the Starbucks 2016 Investor Day in Manhattan, New York, U.S. December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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April 15 (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said there have been “a lot of false promises over the last few years” and assured his employees that those “days are over” in a video addressed to the company’s employees on Monday.

“We are going to make promises that we will keep, promises that are real and going to solve the problems that exist in your stores,” Schulz said in the video released to Reuters on Friday.

Schultz, who returned to lead the company for the third time last month, is in the midst of dealing with a growing union drive at U.S. cafes. read more

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He added that he plans to focus on issues raised by employees in their “co-creation sessions” such as need for more training, need for guaranteed hours, problems with ice machines breaking, maintenance and repairs not coming in a timely manner.

“I have realized there have been many short term decisions that have had an adverse affect. We are going to reverse that,” the CEO who has been practically synonymous with the company he took over in 1987 said.

Baristas at more than 170 U.S. Starbucks locations have asked the NLRB for union elections since August, with at least 10 locations voting in favor of the Workers United union. read more

Last month, a federal labor board accused Starbucks of unlawfully retaliating against two employees in a Phoenix, Arizona, cafe for trying to unionize their store.

The same day, a group of investors with $3.4 trillion under management urged the company to stop sending anti-union communications to its employees and to adopt a neutral policy towards unions.

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Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru

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The Elusive Politics of Elon Musk

Mr. Musk has objected when politicians have tried to characterize his views as in sync with their own, insisting that he would rather leave politics to others, despite ample evidence on Twitter to the contrary. When Mr. Abbott last year defended a strict anti-abortion law that made the procedure virtually illegal in Texas by citing Mr. Musk’s support — “Elon consistently tells me that he likes the social policies in the state of Texas,” the governor said — Mr. Musk pushed back.

“In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” he responded on Twitter. “That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

If that’s the case, he often can’t seem to help himself. He heckles political figures who have taken a position he disagrees with or who have seemingly slighted him. Mr. Musk’s response to Senator Elizabeth Warren after she said that he should pay more in income taxes was, “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen.”

After one of Mr. Musk’s Twitter fans pointed out that President Biden had not congratulated SpaceX for the successful completion of a private spaceflight last fall, Mr. Musk hit back with a jab reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s derisive nickname “Sleepy Joe.”

“He’s still sleeping,” he replied. Several days later, he criticized the Biden administration as “not the friendliest” and accused it of being controlled by labor unions. These comments came just a few weeks after his insistence that he preferred to stay out of politics.

Few issues have raised his ire as much as the coronavirus restrictions, which impeded Tesla’s manufacturing operations in California and nudged him closer to his decision last year to move the company’s headquarters to Texas. That move, however, was very much symbolic since Tesla still has its main manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Fremont, Calif., and a large office in Palo Alto.

Over the course of the pandemic, Mr. Musk’s outbursts flared dramatically as he lashed out at state and local governments over stay-at-home orders. He initially defied local regulations that shut down his Tesla factory in Fremont. He described the lockdowns as “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes” and posted a libertarian-tinged rallying cry to Twitter: “FREE AMERICA NOW.” He threatened to sue Alameda County for the shutdowns before relenting.

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