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Amazon Union Efforts: What to Expect From Votes This Month

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Workers in Amazon warehouses have pushed for additional rest-and-recovery time and for less grueling quotas.


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A vote on unionizing starts at a New York Amazon warehouse on Friday, and another vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama will be tallied next week, adding to a trend of increased labor organizing across the country.

The count in Bessemer, Alabama, comes a year after workers at the facility voted not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. After the defeat, the union successfully alleged that Amazon had interfered with that vote. Federal officials ordered a new election, finding that a mailbox installed by Amazon looked like a voting booth and could’ve given workers the false impression that Amazon itself was running the election.

The earlier Bessemer election kicked off a year of increased labor organization across the country. Two other Amazon facilities, both in Staten Island, New York, are seeking to unionize. Workers at more than 150 US Starbucks stores have requested union elections, and eight of the coffee chain’s stores have voted to unionize under Workers United. On Friday, workers at a Mesa, Arizona, facility voted to join the union, according to a HuffPost reporter. Separately, Google Fiber contractors in Missouri signed on Friday with the Alphabet Workers Union, the umbrella union representing employees of Google’s parent company. A New York City REI store also organized earlier this month, voting to join the RWDSU as the company’s first unionized retail outlet.

The burst in labor activity comes as corporate employees and hourly workers find themselves with renewed leverage because of the Great Resignation, the wave of workers leaving jobs as a result of the pandemic. To combat the loss of workers to other jobs or early retirement, employers have rolled out higher wages and better benefits. These improvements, however, haven’t satisfied Amazon organizers, who’re demanding better break policies and a reduction in physically demanding quotas that critics blame for the e-commerce giant’s high injury rates.

In its public statements, Amazon emphasizes its employees’ right to choose whether to join a union. “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement. “Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”

Many of the labor efforts were brewing before the original Bessemer election. But it was the first public manifestation of growing worker discontent and helped accelerate the activity, says Andrew MacDonald, a labor lawyer at Fox Rothschild who advises employers.

“The fact that it failed almost didn’t seem to matter,” MacDonald said. “People were still talking about it.”

Here’s what you need to know about union activity at Amazon and other companies.

How many Amazon warehouses are considering unionizing?

Workers at three Amazon locations have formally petitioned for union elections with the federal government. Vote-by-mail ballots for a redo election were sent to Amazon workers in Alabama in February. The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that oversees union elections, will start counting the votes on Monday. A result is expected within a week. 

Workers at one Staten Island warehouse will vote in person at their workplace from Friday through Wednesday. Workers at a second Staten Island warehouse have petitioned for an election, which the NLRB has approved but has yet to schedule. Both warehouses are seeking representation by the Amazon Labor Union, a new organization formed by current and former workers.

A victory for a union at Amazon would be historic. The company has never had a unionized workforce in the US, though there are Amazon unions in Europe. The company has fought organizing efforts with mandatory meetings run by paid persuaders who detail potential downsides of joining a union. Amazon also sends messages to workers’ phones and places signs throughout warehouses, urging workers to vote no.

Amazon says the meetings are for the benefit of employees. “If the union vote passes, it will impact everyone at the site which is why we host regular informational sessions and provide employees the opportunity to ask questions and learn about what this could mean for them and their day-to-day life working at Amazon,” said spokesperson Nantel in a statement.

Workers from Staten Island say they’ve been removed from meetings for pushing back on claims Amazon’s representatives make in the meetings. A prosecutor at the National Labor Relations Board has alleged that a consultant described union organizers as “thugs” to employees.

What complaints do pro-union Amazon workers have?

The Alabama and New York workers have overlapping concerns, but the union pushes have different origins. 

In Bessemer, workers started talking about unionizing in 2020 after sharing complaints over the grueling pace of work and lack of adequate rest time. Amazon has been the subject of multiple lawsuits over locating break rooms and restrooms too far apart, requiring workers to use a chunk of their downtime walking to them. Regulators in Washington State recently said Amazon’s quota practices are directly responsible for causing musculoskeletal injuries.

In Staten Island, workers demanded better COVID-19 protections in early 2020, when the pandemic threw Amazon’s staffing levels and supply chain into chaos. After the company fired or disciplined employees who planned walkouts, workers created the Amazon Labor Union.

Was Amazon a harbinger of the boom in labor organizing?

The unionizing efforts at Amazon signaled a sea change, labor experts say. 

That Amazon’s union election came first is no surprise, given long-standing criticisms of its warehouse working conditions. Over the past year, the company has publicly dedicated itself to becoming the world’s best employer, but it hadn’t tried to cultivate that image until recently.

Starbucks and REI are different, says Kirthi Kalyanam, director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. Both companies have made being a great workplace a part of their brands. Taken altogether, the union efforts show that workers everywhere want more, Kalyanam says.

“There’s something that’s gone out of tilt in the past two years in terms of employee expectations,” he said. “People really reevaluated what work means to them.”

Are the unions likely to win the Amazon elections?

The odds are against the unions.

In Bessemer, the RWDSU lost by a wide margin during the 2021 election. High turnover means the union has to win over new workers unfamiliar with the issues, which makes extra work for the union, says MacDonald, the employer-side labor lawyer. 

In Staten Island, union organizers didn’t demonstrate they had support from more than half of workers, a threshold unions typically try to reach before filing a petition for an election. Organizers expect to lose some support before an election, so they usually shoot for a margin above 50% at the start, says Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University. Labor law requires a show of support from 30% of workers to qualify for a vote.

What other labor activism is taking place at Amazon locations?

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters said in 2021 that organizing Amazon workers is its top priority. The union hasn’t filed any petitions for elections so far. 

Separately, two groups of Amazon workers are making demands to Amazon management without going through a formal union election. Amazonians United is a labor group operating in locations including Chicago, Sacramento and New York. The group has demanded raises and paid sick time. It’s also asked the company not to reinstate its pre-pandemic ban on bringing personal phones to work, so employees’ families can reach them during emergencies. 

In Seattle, workers at an Amazon Fresh grocery store have declared themselves a union, calling themselves Amazon Workers United. The group hasn’t sought a formal NLRB union election, but it has demanded better pay and benefits, a new uniform policy and more training around diversity and sexual harassment.





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Overwatch 2 Beta Begins Tomorrow: Start Time and What to Expect

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Overwatch 2 starts its second beta on Tuesday, June 28, for PC and console players. The beta begins at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT and runs through Monday, July 18. Sign-ups are still open for a chance to participate, and you can still get guaranteed access if you’re willing to spend some cash.  

The next beta will be our first look at Junker Queen, a new tank hero who first appeared in posters on the Junkertown map that was released in 2017. Fans have been hoping to play her ever since, and five years later, we’re finally getting the chance. The new beta also adds a new hybrid map, Paraiso. The developers have laid out their goals for the beta, which include testing server capacity and hero balance. 

Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s class-based shooter, featuring two teams of five players fighting over objectives. Overwatch devs announced in June that the game will be free to play and will launch in early access on Oct. 4. The first beta injected a frantic pace into the game, which was a welcome change from the slower, more grinding pacing that’s plagued Overwatch in recent years. The free-to-play PvP element will bring the game more in line with other competitive shooters, like Valorant and Apex Legends.

How to sign up for the Overwatch 2 beta

Anyone can sign up for Overwatch 2’s second beta, but it’s not technically an open beta. The game will add people gradually as it ramps up server capacity, and the first big wave of beta access will happen on July 5, according to the beta FAQ page. Even if you were in the previous beta, you’ll need to sign up again. 

Here’s how to sign up:

1. Go to the Overwatch 2 beta site.
2. In the top right corner, log in to your Blizzard Account.
3. At the bottom of the Overwatch 2 beta page, choose your platform (and region for PlayStation players).
4. Then hit Request Beta Access.

If you want guaranteed beta access on June 28, you can purchase the Watchpoint Pack ($40). In addition to beta access on day one, you’ll also get two legendary character skins, a unique player icon and enough digital currency to buy the first two battle passes.

How do I download the Overwatch 2 beta?

Blizzard hasn’t released details on downloading the second beta, but it should follow the same process as the first beta. Here’s how that worked:

1. Log in to your Battle.net account and navigate to Overwatch on the game launcher.

2. In the bottom left, click the Game Version drop-down.

3. Select Overwatch 2 Tech Beta to install.

4. When the download is complete, hit the blue Play button to start.

Junker Queen spinning her axe

Junker Queen’s ultimate ability helps her close distance and end fights quickly.


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Junker Queen abilities

The new beta finally gives fans a chance to play as Junker Queen, a hero we’ve all been excited about and/or thirsting over since she was first teased on the Junkertown map. Here’s what we know about Junker Queen’s abilities, from the Overwatch Twitter account:

New Hybrid Map: Paraiso

The beta also adds Paraiso, a new hybrid map that explores Lucio’s home, including the DJ’s Clube Sinestesia. As with all hybrid maps, players will start by attacking or defending a control point, and if the attackers succeed, players will spend the rest of the map attacking or defending a payload. 

An underground club with light-up floor

Clube Sinestesia is where support hero Lucio found fame as a DJ.


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For more Overwatch 2 news, check out everything we learned from the Overwatch 2 reveal event.



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Icebergify: How To Create an Iceberg of Your Most Listened to Spotify Artists

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Been on social media today? Seen those bizarre musical Icebergs floating around in your feed? You’re not alone. Screenshots like this have been doing the rounds today, particularly on Twitter. 

It’s all created via the magic of a website called Icebergify.

Using the data from your Spotify listening habits, Icebergify creates an Iceberg of your most listened to artists ranked by popularity. At the tip of the iceberg? Your favourite “mainstream” artists. Your Taylor Swifts, your Beyonces, your Drakes, etc. The further down you go, the more obscure it becomes. It looks a little like this…

If you want to see your own iceberg, you can head to the website directly. Be warned: it does require your Spotify log-in. 

The Icebergify website was developed by Akshay Raj, a freshman studying Computer & Data Science at Rice University. He says he has no plans to monetize the site or use the data collected — which is limited to your username, Spotify account ID and the top 50 tracks and artists listened to over the past few years. 

How does it work? It’s fairly simple. Icebergify takes your most listened to artists and sorts them according to popularity rankings. Streams, shares, saves, likes, and followers are all taken into account. This is why Beyonce might be at the top of your iceberg, but lesser known artists are at the bottom, beneath the ocean. Also worth noting: It seems like Icebergify is being flooded due to its surprising popularity. Head back later if it doesn’t immediately work.





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Apple’s First Mixed-Reality Headset May Sport New M2 Processor

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Apple’s first mixed-reality headset could come with the company’s flagship M2 processor, just one of the “deluge” of new products the company is expected to unveil in the next year, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported Sunday.

The M2, unveiled in June, features redesigned central processing units and a significant memory increase, which would provide a significant boost to the much-rumored headset over the previous M1 chip.

The much-rumored headset incorporating both virtual and augmented reality environments is expected to provide a boon to the gaming industry. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier week that the headset — expected to be announced in January 2023 — would be the most complicated product Apple has designed yet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about his excitement about AR. Earlier this week, he explained that the tech industry is still in the “very early innings” of this technology’s possibilities.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space, and sort of stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer,” Cook told China Daily.

Other products Gurman expects to debut in the next 12 months include four iPhone 14 models, three Apple Watch variations, several Macs with M2 and M3 chips, iPads, updated AirPods Pro earbuds, a fresh HomePod, and an upgraded Apple TV. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read moreApple AR, VR Headset Rumors: WWDC, Release Rumors, M1 Chip and More



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