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For the past 18 months, Amazon has offered all of its Washington employees in-house virtual and in-person healthcare as a part of a trial for its new service Amazon Care.
The tech giant announced Wednesday that it would make the service available to other employers in the state, and had plans to offer its virtual services nationwide by summer. Amazon also announced that in-person care would become available in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, and other cities in the coming months.
Amazon Care is yet another recent addition to Amazon’s healthcare service portfolio, coming just months after the launch of its Amazon Pharmacy prescription delivery service. The company has yet to announce the price-point of Amazon Care, though stock market conditions indicate that some view it as a threat to other businesses in the telehealth space. Shares of telehealth leader Amwell fell nearly 8 percent following the announcement of Amazon Care, with Teladoc also dropping by 2 percent.
Despite its success in Washington, Amazon’s attempts to break into the multi-billion dollar healthcare market haven’t always panned out. In January 2021, its nonprofit organization Haven Healthcare, which had been established three years prior in partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, was shuttered due to its inability to make inroads with outside companies.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon wrote in an email to former Haven employees, “Haven worked best as an incubator of ideas, a place to pilot, test and learn — and a way to share best practices across our companies. Our learnings have been invaluable.”
Perhaps the trial and error of Haven Healthcare paved the road to success for the new Amazon Care service.
Facebook, Google, And More Pressure SEC to Require Business Climate Reports
Seven of the biggest technology companies in the world are urging the federal government to hold them accountable about climate change.
Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google parent company Alphabet, and more sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler on Friday, asking that the SEC require businesses to regularly reveal issues related to climate change to shareholders and the public.
The coalition’s letter stated that the companies “believe that climate disclosures are critical to ensure that companies follow through on stated climate commitments and to track collective progress towards addressing global warming and building a prosperous, resilient zero-carbon economy.” It marks one of the most high-profile attempts by big tech to spur more self-responsibility and involvement from their sector and follows other instances of the industry being vocal about the need to address climate change.
Perhaps the biggest request in the letter is regarding greenhouse gases. The companies claim that the SEC should require businesses to report on these gas emissions in an annual report that provides transparency to anyone involved in the company and any potential customers as well.
Additionally, the group of businesses stated that they have purchased 21 gigawatts of clean energy in their quest for a fully renewable economy.
The letter doesn’t come as a major surprise, since many major tech companies have long been adamant about fighting climate change. However, even the most vocal companies have been criticized for their lack of tangible action. Recently, some of these companies – such as Amazon – have put forth plans to show how serious they are about tackling the pressing issue. Jeff Bezos launched the “Climate Pledge” in September 2019, which included plans for Amazon to use 80% renewable energy by 2024 before transitioning to complete zero emissions by the year 2030.
SpaceX NASA lunar lander contract suspended following formal protest from competitors
Just two weeks after it announced its $2.9 billion contract to build NASA’s lunar lander spacecraft, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been asked to put the project on hold in light of formal protests filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics. All three space engineering firms had originally been in talks with NASA to collaborate on the Artemis project, which will be the first to put humans on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission nearly 50 years ago; however due to budgetary limitations, NASA chose to only work with SpaceX instead of all three companies.
SpaceX’s Starship rocket system, which is under development for both private and public use ferrying humans and cargo to the Moon and Mars, won the contract for its payload capacity and $2.9 billion bid — far cheaper than what Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin or Dynetics could offer, according to a NASA source selection document
In a lengthy formally-filed protest, Blue Origin accused NASA of making last-minute changes to the proposed lunar lander project that sacrificed the integrity of the project. It also claimed that NASA failed to attempt to negotiate a proposed price with it, where it had done so with SpaceX.
Bezos’s space firm called NASA’s decision “high risk,” claiming that the decision “eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America’s return to the Moon.”
“Pursuant to the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the [Human Landing System] contract has been suspended,” NASA spokeswoman Monica Witt said in a statement.
True to his devil-may-care attitude with regard to most matters, Musk responded to the Blue Origin protest on Twitter:
Amazon warehouse employees vote against union; RWDSU raises concerns
Photo credit: AP News/Jay Reeves
Perhaps in response to a strong push from their employer, the overwhelming majority of voters in the historic Amazon warehouse unionization election decided that they preferred not to participate in a union. Nearly 1,800 Amazon employees in a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama cast their vote in opposition, expressing their concerns about job security and lack of legitimate benefits in exchange for union dues. If the vote had passed, the warehouse would have been the first Amazon location to unionize.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) plans to file Objections to the results of the vote, claiming that Amazon “[created] an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals.” Some sources also suggest that votes were cast against the union due to fears that Amazon may cancel its plans of opening more warehouses in areas surrounding the low-income locality.
Amazon issued a statement on Friday after the votes had been counted saying that “employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from [Amazon.]” The post also notes that the election results were not a win for Amazon, but for its employees whose voices were heard that day.
Despite this, numerous accounts of anti-union meetings and literature posted throughout the warehouse point towards Amazon’s distinct opposition to the unionizing efforts. Some employees described meetings as “mandatory,” during which company higher-ups informed them about other RWDSU contracts, which appeared to indicate that the union’s current members did not see significant changes in their pay.
Amazon has been under fire for its labor ethics for years, with countless employees claiming that they often are prohibited from tending to their basic needs such as bathroom time and drinks of water. A recent media controversy also led to the discovery that some Amazon delivery drivers had been forced to urinate in plastic bottles while on the clock.