Amazon will cover its U.S. employees’ expenses when they travel to access non-threatening medical procedures, including abortions.
The company joins a list of American organizations that have recently announced they would be taking similar steps. For example, companies ranging from Yelp and Uber to Citigroup and Match have implemented policies designed to support their employees’ abortion rights.
These companies’ decision to offer such benefits come in the midst of bills seeking to restrict access to abortions passing in a number of states, and with the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
As Axios and other outlets have reported, Amazon’s new policy is not specific to abortion, and the company will also reimburse employees for treatments such as cellular gene therapies, services for substance abuse and others. Amazon will cover up to $4,000 in travel expenses, and the policy will apply if the medical treatment is not available within 100 miles of a U.S.-based employee’s home, and if remote care is not available.
April Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Holds, Employers Add 428,000 Jobs
The United States saw notable payroll gains again in April, with employers adding 428,000 new jobs last month, according to the Labor Department’s new jobs report, released Friday morning.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%, consistent with March’s figure. Average hourly earnings, month-over-month, came in at 0.3% for April compared to 0.4% expected and a revised 0.4% in March. And, at 5.5%, average hourly earnings, year-over-year, also saw little change in comparison to March (5.6%).
“The U.S. economy has brought back payrolls each month so far in 2022, and April’s payroll gains still represented growth well above pre-pandemic trends,” wrote Yahoo! Finance’s Emily McCormick.
“Throughout 2019, payroll growth had averaged about 164,000 per month. And though payroll gains were also slightly downwardly revised for February and March, these increases were still solid on a historical basis.”
Service-based employers again accounted for some of the most new jobs added in April. Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry increased by 78,000 last month, representing a slight decrease from the 100,000 new jobs the sector added in March. Transportation and warehousing payroll gains increased “much more markedly in April compared to March,” Yahoo! Finance reported, rising by 52,000 compared to 9,500 during the prior month.
“Some might say [job growth is] normalizing as the economy is approaching maximum employment,” ADP chief economist Nela Richardson told reporters, according to CNN. Richardson noted that she believes “it will be a bumpy road back to normalcy,” CNN reported.
“The bottom line,” CNN’s Anneken Tappe wrote, is that “Friday’s report should still look pretty good on the whole, especially when compared to pre-pandemic times. But it’s also clear that the pace of the recovery has entered a new phase.”
Starbucks to Raise Wages, but Not for Unionized Workers
Just one month after returning to Starbucks as interim CEO, Howard Schultz has announced new benefits — including expanded training, improved sick leave and credit card tipping — to about 240,000 Starbucks employees, excluding those that are unionizing, NPR reports.
“We do not have the same freedom to make these improvements at locations that have a union or where union organizing is underway,” Schultz told shareholders in a conference call earlier this week.
“Starbucks said all employees, including those at stores that are unionizing, would receive the wage hikes that were first announced last October,” according to NPR. “On Aug. 1, employees will get either a 3% raise or $15 dollars an hour, whichever is higher, and tenured hourly employers will get even bigger raises.”
The increases come in the wake of workers at more than 230 Starbucks stores filing petitions for union elections, with about 50 stores voting to join the national union Workers United since December, “making it one of the most significant union drives in America,” NPR’s Andrea Hsu wrote.
Reports say that Schultz intimated on a mid-April video call with store managers that Starbucks might move to exclude unionized stores from new benefits, saying that he “had just learned that Starbucks is not permitted by law to offer new benefits to a store that voted for a union while they are in the collective bargaining process.”
As NPR reported, Workers United characterized Schultz’s assertion as “dead wrong,” filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board and stating that Starbucks “must bargain with the union if they wish to implement new benefits programs.”
British Pilots’ Union Accuses EasyJet of ‘Corporate Bullying’
A group of pilots allege that Swiss airline EasyJet has engaged in “corporate bullying” by suggesting that disciplinary action could be taken against absent staff “amid a wave of COVID-related sickness,” MSN reports.
In a recently-leaked email seen by the Financial Times, EasyJet management warned pilots and crew members that current levels of staff absences were “not sustainable going forward,” and noted the company’s ability to take formal action against individuals. EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren revealed that the level of staff absences had been as high as 20% at some of its bases in early April, according to MSN.
The email also warned that disciplinary processes “could be fast-tracked if an individual’s level of absence was deemed excessive,” MSN reports, with the EasyJet email noting that “triggers for formal action are guidelines and we may, if deemed necessary, skip a stage where the absence continues to be poor.”
The British Airline Pilots’ Association took umbrage with the email’s tone, saying it “amounted to corporate bullying, with the union’s general secretary Martin Chalk calling for EasyJet management to provide “visible and obvious” reimbursement, given the level of ill will among EasyJet staff.
“We have urged management to recognize that dictates from on high are counterproductive and causing ill feeling amongst EasyJet staff, who have taken significant personal losses to support the company over the last two years,” Chalk said in a statement. “For pilots, safety is critical and, while our members have proved time and again through the COVID crisis that they will go the extra mile to get the job done, they will not do so at the expense of safety.”