Questions Raised After 6 Amazon Employees Die in Warehouse Collapse During Tornado
Source: Lawrence Bryant, Reuters
Workers across the country are calling for Amazon to scrap its no phone policy so that they can personally keep up with weather events during extreme conditions.
Employee Not Allowed to Leave
At least 90 people have been confirmed dead after a series of tornadoes devastated portions of six different states on Friday night — including Kentucky and Illinois, the latter of which housed an Amazon warehouse where six employees died.
According to local officials, a wall the size of a football field and part of the roof of the warehouse — located in Edwardsville, Illinois — collapsed following the touchdown of a tornado at 8:39 p.m. Later that night, rescue crews managed to evacuate 45 employees from the rubble and airlifted one to the hospital.
In an interview with the New York Post, the girlfriend of one of the victims alleged that her boyfriend, Larry Virden, texted her at 8:23 p.m. to tell her Amazon would not allow him to leave “until after the storm blows over.”
Given that the tornado touched down 16 minutes later, that woman — Cherie Jones — told the Post she believes Virden, a father of four, had time to make it home.
Jones stopped short of directly blaming Amazon for Virden’s death but did say, “It’s that what-if situation: What if they would have let him leave? He could have made it home.”
For their part, Amazon officials stated that the Edwardsville location had received a tornado warning alert, which indicates that a tornado has touched down, prior to the building’s collapse. According to them, the team at the warehouse worked to secure as many workers and partners as possible in a designated shelter area.
In addition to the Amazon workers in Illinois, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said he believes the state’s death toll, which is currently at 80, could climb above 100.
“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history,” Beshear said at a press conference Saturday. “The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen.”
Emergency efforts in both states — as well as Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee — continued Monday and are expected to continue throughout the week.
Workers Criticize No Phone Policy
Some Amazon employees have cited the disaster at the Illinois warehouse in an attempt to pressure locations to scrap a controversial policy that prevents them from having their phones on them while working.
Amazon’s no phone policy has been a longstanding rule for warehouse workers for years, and employees are even required to pass through security checkpoints to ensure compliance. While the policy was temporarily paused during the pandemic, a number of the company’s warehouses have since begun reintroducing it.
“After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe,” an Amazon employee who works in a facility across the street from the collapsed Edwardsville warehouse told Bloomberg. “If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.”
In total, Bloomberg said five Amazon employees spoke to the outlet about wanting their phones with them on the floor so they can have access to extreme weather conditions without having Amazon serve as a middleman.
“I don’t trust them with my safety to be quite frank,” an employee in Indiana, which also saw tornadoes Friday night, told the outlet. “If there’s severe weather on the way, I think I should be able to make my own decision about safety.”
That employee has indicated she will use her paid time off if the company decides to remain open despite severe weather warnings in the future.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (Bloomberg) (The New York Times)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Elon Musk Bashes Disabled Ex-Twitter Employee, Gets Blowback
After Musk claimed the former employee “did no actual work,” the staffer calmly directed passive-aggressive insults right back at the billionaire.
Excuse Me, Do I Still Work Here?
Elon Musk brawled online with a former Twitter employee who didn’t know whether he was fired Tuesday, accusing the staffer of exploiting his disability.
Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson, who has muscular dystrophy, joined Twitter in 2021 after it acquired the creative agency he founded: Ueno.
He said on Twitter that he was unable to confirm whether he was still a Twitter employee nine days after being locked out of his work computer, despite reaching out to the head of HR and Musk himself through email.
At the time, Twitter had laid off at least 200 workers, or some 10% of its remaining workforce.
In search of an answer, Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk, who responded with the question: “What work have you been doing?”
After being given permission by Musk to break confidentiality, Thorleifsson listed several of his accomplishments, including leading “design crits to help level up design across the company.”
“Level up from what design to what? Pics or it didn’t happen,” Musk replied.
“We haven’t hired design roles in 4 months. What changes did you make to help with the youths?”
Thorleifsson reminded Musk that he couldn’t access any pictures because he was locked out of his work computer.
Musk stopped replying to the tweets, but hours later he returned to the platform to lob invective at his former employee.
Musk Vs. Halli
“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm,” Musk tweeted, apparently referring to Thorleifsson. “Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.”
“But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place,” he added.
In a later Twitter thread, Thorleifsson said he could type for one or two hours at a time before his hands cramped, but that in pre-Musk Twitter, that wasn’t a problem because he was a senior director.
He added that despite his crippling disability, he worked hard for years to build Ueno.
“We grew fast and made money,” he said. “I think that’s what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy? That I independently made my money, as opposed to say, inherited an emerald mine.”
Thorleifsson made several more passive-aggressive jabs at Musk.
“I joined at a time when the company was growing fast,” he wrote. “You kind of did the opposite. The company had a fair amount of issues, but then again, most bigger companies do. Or even small companies, like Twitter today.”
Thorleifsson said that immediately following his back-and-forth with Musk, Twitter’s head of HR confirmed that he had indeed been fired from the company.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (CNN) (Yahoo)
Twitter Becomes First Major Social Media Platform to Allow Cannabis Ads in U.S.
Industry leaders hope the move will encourage other platforms to change their policies on cannabis advertising.
Twitter Updates Ad Rules
Twitter announced Wednesday that the company is changing its policies to allow cannabis companies to run ads on the platform.
The decision makes Twitter the first social media platform to allow cannabis ads in the U.S., where it is legal in nearly half of all states but not at the federal level. The company, however, did include a number of restrictions under the new policy.
Most significantly, companies are prohibited from running ads that promote the sale of cannabis, with the exception of “ads for topical (non-ingestible) hemp-derived CBD topical products containing equal to or less than the 0.3% THC government-set threshold.”
As far as what advertisers can show, Twitter did not explicitly say, but it has been reported that they will be allowed to promote their brands and provide informational content.
Beyond that, all advertisers “must be licensed by the appropriate authorities,” authorized by Twitter, and they can only advertise in locations where they are licensed.
There are also rules about what these companies can show. For example, they cannot target ads for people under 21 — nor can they show people using cannabis or under the influence. Additionally, there are bans on making claims “of efficacy or health benefits” as well as false or misleading claims.
Twitter made it clear that advertisers are liable for ensuring that they are in compliance “with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and advertising guidelines.”
A Possible Growing Trend
Twitter’s new move policy has been widely cheered by the industry, and already, companies have begun to take advantage of this new update.
According to Reuters, the medical and recreational cannabis provider Trulieve Cannabis Corp has launched a multistate ad campaign on Twitter. Other companies that make cannabis accessories like PAX — which is an industry leader best known for its vaporizers — have also started advertising their devices, per Marijuana Moment.
“We’re excited to be among the first of Twitter’s cannabis advertising partners and be able to engage customers more directly,” PAX Vice President of Marketing Luke Droulez said in a press release. “After decades of prohibitionist propaganda, there is an opportunity to destigmatize and normalize the plant and its use.”
Twitter’s decision raises questions about whether other social media companies will follow suit. There has been some movement in the space: just last month, Google updated its policies to allow ads for FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing CBD and “topical, hemp-derived CBD products with THC content of 0.3% or less.”
Those ads, however, are limited to California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico, and some formats are banned, like YouTube Masthead ads.
Some in the industry have speculated that this change is not representative of broader trends, and instead just a decision Twitter made because it is struggling to keep advertisers under Elon Musk’s leadership.
The company has reportedly lost more than half of its top advertisers, and major firms have actively told clients not to buy ads since his takeover. To that point, Twitter is trying exceptionally hard to get cannabis advertisers.
Amy Deneson, the co-founder of the Cannabis Media Council, a trade association focused on cannabis education, told Politico that the platform is not setting any minimum ad buys for cannabis companies, a significant departure from the $5,000 to $10,000 many advertising platforms require.
Beyond that, the company is also offering a one-to-one match for every dollar cannabis advertisers spend on ads until the end of March — so a $50 campaign would actually be a $100 one.
Even if the move is just a bid to attract new advertisers at a time when the company is dealing with financial troubles, if it proves to be successful, it is hard to imagine other platforms would not follow in Twitter’s footsteps.