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Businesses in China Shut Down as Officials Widen COVID Lockdowns

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BBC News has reported that tens of millions of people across China face restrictions, including the entire Jilin province and technology hub Shenzhen, as authorities report record numbers of COVID cases.

Toyota, Volkswagen and Apple supplier Foxconn are among the firms affected.

The lockdowns have raised concerns that crucial supply chains may be disrupted.

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All 24 million residents of the north-eastern province were placed under quarantine orders on Monday. It is the first time China has restricted an entire province since the Wuhan and Hebei lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic.

Businesses in many of the affected regions have been told to close or have their employees work from home, unless they supplied essential services like food, utilities or other necessities.

Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones for Apple, stopped its operations in Shenzhen on Monday, saying the date of resumption would “be advised by the local government.”

But it has several production sites in China and told the BBC it had, “adjusted the production line to minimize the potential impact.” Its plant in Zhengzhou — the world's largest iPhone factory — remains open, as the city was not hit by the restrictions.

Toyota, which shut its factory in Changchun city in Jilin province, did not give a timeline for when business would resume. The Japanese carmaker told the BBC that the move was made to consider the “impact of supplier operation,” and the “safety and security of employees and related parties.”

German carmaker Volkswagen also shuttered operations in Changchun, saying production of Volkswagen and Audi cars and their components was “affected,” but that it hoped to reopen its factory soon.

Analysts believe that firms would be able to manage the disruptions. “Such lockdowns have happened before, and [cities] have re-opened within a short period of time once the number of Covid cases were within control,” Yeang Cheng Ling, senior investment strategist at Singapore's DBS Bank, told the BBC.

Disney Employees Stage Walkouts Over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

A number of Disney employees staged virtual 15-minutes walkouts this week that will culminate in a day-long walkout on March 22. According to The Verge, the walkouts are in response to the Walt Disney Company giving money to the politicians behind Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The bill effectively makes it illegal for educators who teach kindergarten through 3rd grade to at all discuss queerness or queer people with their students, even though the concepts of sexual and gender identity are not actually taught at that level. Teachers would similarly be barred from broaching the topics with older students unless the subject matter is deemed “age-appropriate” or “developmentally appropriate” in ways that the bill does not specify.

Rather than simply doubling down on representation, the walkout’s organizers want Disney to fulfill a set of demands meant to “regain the truth of the LGBTQIA+ community” starting with an outright commitment to “indefinitely cease all campaign donations to ... politicians involved in the creation or passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Beyond vowing not to give money to those specific politicians, the organizers are also pushing for Disney to, “publicly commit to an actionable plan that protects employees” based in Florida from being directly harmed by the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The organizers are also calling for Disney to donate to groups like The Trevor Project and to redouble its commitment to queer stories and their creators with the creation of a new in-house brand similar to The Onyx Collective that’s specifically meant to focus on queer voices.

Latest Labor Department Report Show Women in Low-Paying Jobs are Losing Billions

According to a report released this week by the U.S. Department of Labor, women in low-paying industries, particularly Black and Hispanic women, are losing billions of dollars every year.

As reported by CNBC, the study ranks the nation’s top 20 jobs with the highest median income. Only one — nurse practitioner — is dominated by women. Nine of them are more than 75% male, and the rest are relatively evenly split between men and women. However, eight of the jobs with the lowest pay are predominantly held by women.

Economists call this dynamic “occupational segregation,” and Black and Hispanic women are especially susceptible. The Labor Department estimated that differences in industry and job concentration cost Black women $39.3 billion in potential wages in 2019. For Hispanic women, the total was even greater, at $46.7 billion.

“Occupational segregation is bad for a lot of different reasons,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, a senior advisor at the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau and one of the authors of the report. “It stifles individual potential, but it also inhibits innovation. It makes the labor force less adaptable to changes, and it obviously has impacts on individual families’ economic security, but also their ability to spend back into the economy.”

BuzzFeed Accused of Illegally Shortchanging Employees in IPO

The New York Times has reported that nearly 80 former and current employees of BuzzFeed are accusing the company in complaints of bungling its stock market debut and denying the workers the chance to sell their shares at a higher price.

In two claims, made to the American Arbitration Association, which resolves disputes out of court, the employees said the company had failed to properly instruct them on how to trade their shares immediately after the initial public offering in December.

The groups are asking for compensatory damages estimated at more than $8.7 million, according to the claims, which were viewed by the Times.

BuzzFeed, a news and entertainment publisher, began trading on Dec. 6. The company’s stock price fell sharply in the days after it went public, and employees say they were not able to sell their shares until the price had dropped nearly 60%, to less than $5.

A BuzzFeed spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday that, “BuzzFeed prioritized communication with former and current employees last year to provide them with the information they needed to manage their equity…It’s regrettable that the stock price declined, but there is no merit to the claims and we intend to rebut them vigorously.”


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