• The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Amazon "intends to open a warehouse in Northwest Arkansas, according to publicly available documents.
"It would be the global technology, streaming and retail company's first foray into the backyard of Walmart Inc., one of its chief competitors, and the fastest growing part of the state … The address is the location of a 24.7-acre property owned since 2015 by Rogers Warehouse Development LLC, according to the Benton County assessor's office. It is about 12 miles from Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville."
The story goes on to point out that the property currently "holds a 100,000-square-foot warehouse with nine 'dock-high doors,' three 'drive-in doors' and 6 acres of 'yard space' that was built in 2004. It had been listed on several commercial real estate databases since July 2020. However, those listings have been pulled.
"The size of the warehouse suggests it is being positioned as a 'last-mile' delivery center. Fulfillment centers prepare customer orders, which are then delivered in bulk to the 'last-mile' delivery center. There, the orders are picked up by small delivery vans to make the final deliveries to customer doorsteps."
• The Washington Post has a story about how Amazon "has been heavily expanding into areas that the government designates for special tax incentives, according to a new analysis that comes amid growing regulatory scrutiny of the e-commerce giant … Amazon has opened 153 facilities in these zones since 2018, accounting for more than 15 percent of the warehouses that it has opened in that time period … And 18 more facilities are scheduled to open in these areas in 2022 and 2023."
The Post writes that the tax initiative had "bipartisan backing and was intended to incentivize investment in some of the most economically distressed regions of the country. But critics of the program have raised concerns that such programs further enrich wealthy investors and corporations for projects that would have happened without government assistance. And because there aren’t requirements that investors and corporations publicly report how they are using the tax breaks, it’s difficult to measure impact. Experts say it’s impossible to know if the program is having the intended effect of creating jobs and affordable housing — or simply exacerbating economic divides."
• The Washington Post reports that Amazon has reached an agreement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that is supposed to make it easier for warehouse employees to organize.
According to the story, Amazon "must allow employees who are done with their shifts but working on union activities to access nonwork areas of the facilities, such as break rooms, if other off-duty workers are also allowed there … Workers had filed complaints with the agency, saying that Amazon did not allow them to be on-site outside 15 minutes on either side of their shifts, making it difficult to organize.
"The agreement also protects workers who are participating in union activities outside the facilities, such as in the parking lots, from getting kicked off the premises … Amazon must send notices informing workers of their rights to current and past warehouse workers who were employed at the company since March 22, encompassing hundreds of thousands of workers."
The agreement between Amazon and the NLRB comes as a second unionization election is on the horizon at a Bessemer, Alabama, facility where a first attempt to unionize failed but Amazon was found by the NLRB to have improperly interfered in the process.
• CNBC reports that "a labor group seeking to organize Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island has refiled a union petition with the National Labor Relations Board … The group, known as the Amazon Labor Union, first filed its request for a union vote in late October with signatures from more than 2,000 employees. But last month the petition was withdrawn after the NLRB determined they needed wider support to spur a vote.
"NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado confirmed the Amazon Labor Union is in the process of submitting the paperwork to file for a union election. The group has submitted the initial petition to kick off that process, but has yet to file two remaining documents, including a showing of interest, which indicates it has met the required threshold for employee signatures, the NLRB said.
"The group, led by former Amazon employee Christian Smalls, is seeking to organize workers at four Amazon warehouses in the New York City borough."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. rebuffed a request from federal transportation officials to delay the launch of new 5G wireless services but offered a counterproposal that would allow limited deployments to move forward this week.
"The cellphone carriers said Sunday in a letter reviewed by the Wall Street Journal that they could further dim the power of their new 5G service for six months to match limits imposed by regulators in France, giving U.S. authorities more time to study more powerful signals’ effect on air traffic. The plan from the companies, which have said they plan to start service Wednesday, could prolong a standoff between the telecom and aviation industries over how to proceed."
The rollout of 5G wireless services in the US has created some anxiety among airlines and transportation officials because of concerns that the 5G signals could create interference between ground-aircraft communications. However, as the Journal notes, "Telecom-industry officials have pointed to dozens of countries, including France, that have already allowed cellular service over the frequencies in question, known as C-band. France is among the countries that have imposed wireless limits near airports while regulators study their effect on aircraft."