business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    The case of Alexi McCammond is yet another reminder of the enduring sometimes awful power of social media, thou, as KC reminds us, it also reminds us something important about bigotry.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    by Kevin Coupe

    I was interested to see a Yahoo Finance report that in the UK, "High street sandwich chain Pret a Manger has said it will roll out baked treats in Tesco, as it swims against the tide of UK high street closures and lockdown pressures.

    "The deal with the UK's biggest supermarket chain is an effort to pivot to the 'new normal' and prospects of a shift in working patterns for good.

    "The move will initially focus on the rollout in freezer aisles of the signature Pret croissants for baking at home, which will be available in 700 Tesco stores.  Pret's managing director Claire Clough has also said that dressings and sauces are in consideration for sale in supermarkets."

    This intrigues me for several reasons.

    First, it shows how companies like Pret a Manger need to pivot.  The company has eliminated thousands of jobs, closed 30 stores permanently, and currently has about half of its stores closed because of the pandemic, with staff on furlough.  Pret a Manger had to do something to remain relevant, and deals like these make sense.

    The deal also suggests a possible future.

    What if Tesco, which already has a considerable footprint in the UK, could work with Pret a Manger to use its locations as pick-up locations for products ordered online.  Maybe, in a world where physical retail locations mean something different than in the before-times, some vending-locker combination could be used to further Tesco's ubiquity.

    When I read about the Tesco-Pret a Manger deal, I think it could just be the beginning of an Eye-Opening future.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    From Bloomberg:

    "Shoppers are out for vengeance.

    "A year into a pandemic that’s devastated lives, jobs and the economy, those who are lucky enough to have disposable income are ready to go out and splurge -  even if they still have nowhere to go in that stunning dress or those brand new sneakers. Some are calling this 'revenge spending.'

    "U.S. retail sales are near record highs and employment and vaccinations are on the rise. Americans have amassed a massive stockpile of excess savings — Bloomberg Economics estimates it to be about $1.7 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic through January. And that’s about to be bolstered by a new round of stimulus payments. As the economy reopens, consumer spending over the next two quarters is likely to be the strongest such period in at least 70 years with a rebound in services leading the way, according to economists at Wells Fargo & Co."

    KC's View:

    Let's not assume that all this money will go to discretionary purchases, though it is fair to work on the premise that a considerable percentage of it will.

    I do think that this is an opportunity for food retailers to be even more aspirational in their approach to marketing, to up-sell customers into new categories and higher quality items, to appeal to people's good taste in a way that benefits customers as well as the store.

    Teach people to buy smarter, cook better, and feed their families in a way that raises the bar, as opposed to lowering it.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    The New York Times has an interview with Kathryn McLay, CEO of Walmart-owned Sam's Club, in which she discusses the ongoing debate about an increase in the federal minimum wage.  The story quotes her as saying that "calls to raise the federal minimum wage often lacked important nuance, like the fact that the cost of living varied wildly from city to city. She added that Walmart offered other forms of compensation beyond hourly pay, and that the company supported raising the minimum wage, though she did not offer a target number."

    Some excerpts from the interview:

    •  "What I look at is, 'How do I create great jobs and great careers?' The starting wage is one thing, but is very different in California than it is in Alabama, so having one amount across the nation can cause a little bit of a disparity. So really what I’ve been trying to focus on is how do we design the job so it’s something that people want to do? How do you make people feel a sense of team, so they feel known and valued?

    "There are a lot of elements that go into making sure that people feel like this is a great job for them, and that they can earn an income that enables them to look after themselves and their household. One of the things that Walmart and Sam’s Club have done really, really well is that growth in getting people from hourly through to management. I mean, Walmart C.E.O. Doug McMillon started out as an hourly associate … 75 percent of our managers started as hourly. So there is a pathway there, and that is true. So as much as the $15 compensation is important, I think you have to look more holistically. We’ve got meat cutters who earn $24 an hour. But as a company, I’m most interested in: 'How do I create those career ladders? How do I create great jobs? How do I make sure people have a sense of fulfillment through the work that they do?'"

    •  "Walmart has agreed that the federal wage should be raised, and we’ve advocated for that through the Business Roundtable, through government relations, etc. So it’s not that we’re saying that the federal wage shouldn’t be raised … I think we have been consistently increasing the amount that we pay as a start rate. We also look at all of these other elements that go into making it a great place to work. If you look at what we paid in bonuses last year, if you look at what we’ve done through education, there was a lot that was done to share back with associates. I think it’s really important that they know how valued they are."

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    The Seattle Times reports that "Amazon and Seattle-area delivery contractors have agreed to an $8.2 million class-action settlement with drivers who alleged wage theft when they were delivering the commerce giant’s packages.

    "The settlement stems from a 2017 suit brought by two drivers, Gus Ortiz and Mark Fredley. The drivers weren’t directly employed by Amazon — they worked for an intermediary company, Jungle Trux, one of hundreds of third-party logistics outfits that Amazon has contracted with in the past decade to speed deliveries to customers’ doorsteps."

    However, the story notes, "The drivers wore Amazon uniforms, followed Amazon’s rule book for package delivery, and were supervised by Amazon employees."

    The Times goes on:  "In their lawsuit, Ortiz and Fredley said Amazon was just as culpable as Jungle Trux in forcing them to work without lunch or rest breaks to deliver between 150 and 200 packages a day to Amazon customers. The drivers said they were never paid for the missed breaks."

    The Times notes that this is not an isolated case:

    "Similar class-action suits against Amazon and its delivery contractors are ongoing in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Illinois and Maryland, according to Vice, which first reported news of the settlement with Seattle-area drivers.

    "Meanwhile, California this month fined Amazon and another of its delivery contractors nearly $6.5 million for wage-theft violations affecting 718 workers. The state’s labor commissioner found drivers were forced to work through meal and rest breaks to complete their routes and often worked longer than their scheduled shift without additional pay, resulting in 'frequent minimum wage, overtime, meal break, rest period and split-shift violations.'

    "And last month, Amazon agreed to pay $61.7 million in tips withheld from its Flex gig drivers, who deliver for the company’s Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods services in their personal vehicles, after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission."

    KC's View:

    Gee, I read this stuff and I cannot imagine why people working in Amazon's Alabama distribution center would want to unionize.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    The New York Times has a piece about Kedar Deshpande, the CEO of Zappos, who found himself in a much more fraught position than he expected when he took over from the longtime CEO, virtual founder and retailing icon Tony Hsieh.  Several months after taking the job, Hsieh died in a tragic house fire;  it was then revealed that he had been behaving erratically for some time. and that his death seemed to be a direct result of his personal demons.

    “The Covid situation and everything else going on makes it very tough, particularly with a culture that is built on physical proximity and happiness associated with that,” Deshpande tells the Times, which says that "he said he was optimistic about the future, especially given the decade he had spent at Zappos in different roles.  'The culture is not just one person or two people,' he said."

    The Times goes on:

    "While Zappos did not have to struggle with the drop-off at physical stores that so many other retailers did, it did take a hit early on in the pandemic as shoes and clothing became an afterthought; few people were buying high heels last March. Sales have recovered since, fueled by demand in the so-called performance and home categories - think running and hiking shoes, pajamas, athleisure and slippers.

    "Mr. Deshpande said he was unsure when demand for high heels would return, but anticipated that people would continue to want comfort as the economy reopened.

    Zappos has introduced and expanded ways to smooth out the kinks of online shopping during the pandemic, like allowing some customers to make returns through UPS home pickups, and making it easier to exchange items. It also observed that the average length of calls with customer service representatives had increased as people had more time in a closed-off world. They also left more detailed reviews on products.

    "One of the company’s biggest goals, and a top priority for Mr. Deshpande in coming years, is figuring out how to make online shopping less transactional and more like the browsing experiences that people seek out in malls and department stores. That includes developing new digital magazine-like 'verticals' - much like what media companies create - such as 'The Ones,' which is tailored for female sneakerheads and advertised as 'powered by Zappos'."

    Deshpande tells the Times that all his efforts "are in line with Zappos’s obsessive focus on service for the past 20 years, which he anticipates remaining its focus for the next 20 years.  'To me, Tony’s legacy is around delivering this happiness to everybody,' Mr. Deshpande said."

    KC's View:

    The culture is not just one person or two people.

    That may be the most important sentence in the story.

    If Zappos continues to excel in customer service and thrive as a brand - and I think it is a pretty good bet that it will - it is because the culture is not ephemeral, but rather is embedded deep in the company's DNA.  And, give its owner, Amazon, credit for not having messed with it.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, there now have been a total of 30,521,774 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 555,314 deaths and 22,754,252 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 123,934,415 coronavirus cases, with 2,729,015 resultant fatalities, and 99,856,245 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

    •  The Washington Post reports that "at  least 81.4 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 41.9 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 156.7 million doses have been distributed."

    In addition, the Post reports, "in the last week, an average of 2.49 million doses per day were administered, a 4% increase over the week before."

    •  The Wall Street Journal writes that federal officials are warning "that the U.S. may be on track for another surge in Covid-19 cases, trailing Europe by a few weeks in a pattern that has been seen throughout the pandemic.

    "European countries now implementing new lockdowns amid a resurgence in infections each took an upward trend after disregarding known mitigation strategies, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Rochelle Walensky, noting it was a warning sign for the U.S."

    The story goes on:

    "The U.S. in general has followed the European Union by a few weeks in the dynamics of the outbreak, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week. In Europe, cases came down, plateaued and then countries pulled back on mitigation methods and had a rebound in cases, he said in a conversation with the Wall Street Journal.

    "'They are in the process of a rebound now, which is really something we absolutely want to avoid,' Dr. Fauci said. He added that given the current level of community infection in the U.S., it is risky to pull back on all the preventive modalities."

    •  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday that it was cutting in half - from six feet to three feet - the distance that K-12 students need to be apart while in the classroom.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that "the agency also removed a recommendation that schools install physical barriers such as sneeze guards, partitions or tape and urged schools to consider Covid-19 symptom screening for sports and extracurricular activities."

    The Journal goes on:  "The reduced distance applies to students only, not teachers and staff, the CDC said, because transmission rates of Covid-19 are higher among adults. Also, middle- and high-school students should remain 6 feet apart in communities where transmission of Covid-19 is high if they cannot be divided into cohorts, the CDC said … Students should still remain at least 6 feet from one another while eating and during activities like chorus or sports, at other times when masks cannot be worn and in common areas like school lobbies and auditoriums, the CDC said."

    There will be some who will suggest that the CDC hasn't known what is is talking about, but the reality is that scientists learn more every day, and then apply what they've learned to the situation.  Pretty sure that it is called the scientific method.

    •  The Washington Post reports that "Oxford University and AstaZeneca reported on Monday that their coronavirus "vaccine for the world" was safe and 79 percent effective overall, according to data from a long-awaited clinical trial in the United States, alongside other studies in Chile and Peru … The scientists said the data show the vaccine is 79 percent effective against symptomatic covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 100 percent effective against severe illness."

    It is expected that they will apply to US federal regulators for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks, which, if granted, would add one more vaccine protocol to the other three now available in the US.

    The story notes that "use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was paused across Europe last week after reports of a handful of worrying blood clots. The European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs in the European Union, said the vaccine was safe and effective, and was not linked with a rise in the overall risk of blood clots. But the EMA did not rule out a possible link to rare cases of clotting in the brain, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST."

    •  The Washington Post writes that "new coronavirus infections are rising in several U.S. states, despite record vaccinations — an increase experts attribute to the growing reach of new variants and widespread pandemic fatigue after a year of public health restrictions. The seven-day average of newly reported cases climbed 2.6 percent on Sunday, even as overall hospitalizations and deaths remain down.

    "In Florida, a state where coronavirus measures are lax, authorities in Miami Beach declared a state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew this weekend as large crowds of rowdy spring break revelers turned violent and disruptive."

    It seems clearer than ever that we're in a race - can we vaccinate at a fast enough rate that it obviates any resurgence?  So many people seem to be done with the pandemic and unwilling to continue being vigilant about their own and the public health that it seems entirely possible that things could go off the rails.  I hope it won't … but the combination of lack of public discipline and a far-too-great skepticism about the vaccines makes me worry about the future.

    Vigilance, at this point, doesn't mean hiding.  It shouldn't mean shutting everything down.  But it does mean being respectful of the damage the coronavirus can do and attentive to the recommendations made by public health officials.

    •  The Washington Post writes that "Pregnant women who receive a coronavirus vaccine not only acquire protective antibodies against the virus for themselves but also may pass along immunity to their babies, emerging research shows.

    "Several preliminary studies suggest that women who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) during pregnancy had covid-19 antibodies in their umbilical cord blood. Another study also detected antibodies in their breastmilk, indicating that at least some immunity could be transferred to babies both before and after birth."

    This research, according to Brenna Hughes, vice chair for obstetrics and quality at Duke University, shows that "worries about possible risk and harm may be proven quite the opposite. In fact, it may be proven that the vaccines actually provide protection to the developing fetus."

    •  The New York Times reports that "Miami Beach officials struggled to enforce a new 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday in the city’s South Beach entertainment district. Videos on social media from showed hundreds of people gathered outside after dark on Saturday and law enforcement dispersing crowds.

    "In trying to control crowds and taking a subject into custody, Miami Beach police said they used pepper balls. Two officers were also injured and taken to the hospital, according a departmental tweet. Police arrested at least a dozen people, according to CNN.

    "The city of Miami Beach, worried about the bigger than usual crowds filling the streets of South Beach and the threat of a resurgent coronavirus, declared a state of emergency and moved up its curfew on Saturday in an effort to shut down late-night spring break partying that it said had gotten out of control."

    •  The decision has been made to ban spectators from outside Japan from attending the Summer Olympics there, as a way "to reduce the possibility of spreading of the coronavirus at the Games and boost tepid support for the event among Japanese."

    The Wall Street Journal writes that "the Tokyo Games are set to open on July 23, a year later than planned after the pandemic forced a delay. A decision on spectator levels for those in Japan will be made in April, the local organizers said."

    According to the story, "Japan has been far less affected than the U.S. and many western countries by the coronavirus, with fewer than 9,000 deaths. The spread of new variants of the virus has deepened concern in Japan that an influx of visitors for the Olympics could accelerate Covid-19 cases.

    "Public opinion polls have consistently shown a majority of Japanese would prefer the Games to be postponed again or canceled rather than held this year. Worries about the spread of the virus are the top concern."

    •  The New York Times has a piece about the "widely varying conditions sports fans can expect as large-scale spectatorship returns to big-league stadiums and arenas this spring. Americans are still getting infected with the coronavirus each day, and hospitalizations and deaths continue to add to the virus’s ghastly toll - but even the most Covid-weary cannot deny the life-affirming joy of root-root-rooting for the home team.

    "The question is, should you be rooting in person?"

    The fact is that conditions will range "from strict testing, masking and physical-distancing protocols in New York and California, to a full 40,000-seat stadium with almost no coronavirus restrictions outside Dallas … This spring, the spectator policies of big-league baseball, soccer, hockey and basketball teams in the United States are governed primarily by the Covid-19 regulations of the 27 states where they are located, and the District of Columbia."

    One team certainly hit hard by coronavirus protocols is the Toronto Blue Jays, "who are likely to play home games in Buffalo’s intimate Sahlen Field starting in May or June if the U.S.-Canada border remains closed."

    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "There are a lot of ways to lose in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Virginia, the defending national champions, got knocked out in traditional, if surprising fashion, falling to No. 13 seed Ohio after spending much of the past week in quarantine. 

    "Virginia Commonwealth, meanwhile, experienced an entirely new way to lose on Saturday night when a Covid-19 outbreak on its roster forced the team to forfeit its first round game against Oregon. 

    "The forfeit is an early sign of how difficult it is to stage such a huge event during the pandemic. The entire tournament is being played in Indianapolis and the NCAA developed a lengthy and detailed list of protocols hoping to prevent what happened on Saturday."

    •  The New York Times reports on how "older people, who represent the vast majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, are emerging this spring with the daffodils, tilting their faces to the sunlight outdoors. They are filling restaurants, hugging grandchildren and booking flights."

    The story notes that "the upside-down world in which older Americans are drinking more martinis inside restaurants at a far greater rate than millennials will be short-lived.It’s a fleeting Covid-era interregnum in which the elders celebrate while their younger counterparts lurk in grocery stores in search of leftover shots or rage on social media, envious of those who have received a vaccine. In a few months, all that will most likely be over, and vaccines will be available to all who want them.

    "For now, about two-thirds of Americans over 65 have started the vaccination process and nearly 38 percent are fully vaccinated, compared with 12 percent of the overall population, giving the rest of the nation a glimpse into the after times."

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "film buffs flocked into Los Angeles-area theaters this weekend, eager to turn the page on the pandemic that forced them to spend a year watching movies from home."

    The story goes on:  "Los Angeles is the film capital of the world. Thousands of its residents either work in the entertainment industry, wish to work in it or depend on the sprawling economic activity that film and television production generates. So when many of the city’s theaters threw open their doors Friday - at reduced capacity - for the first time in one year, people showed up, and in some cases filled every seat available."

    For months, the story says, "executives at Hollywood’s biggest studios and theater chains said that when massive markets like Los Angeles and New York eventually reopened, combined with a successful rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine, 'pent-up demand' would revive their struggling businesses. Now, after theaters in New York opened two weeks ago and those in Los Angeles this weekend, the industry will get a clear look at how desperate moviegoers may be to return to theaters."

    •  Variety reports that "the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is moving from October 2021 to April of 2022, two industry sources with knowledge of the situation tell Variety. It is expected that the country-music themed Stagecoach festival, which takes place the weekend after Coachella’s two weekends, will move as well … The move, if it is officially confirmed, marks the fourth time the dates for Coachella, which takes place over two weekends at the Empire Polo Ground in Indio, Calif., have been rescheduled: first from April to October 2020, then to April 2021, and then October, although the October dates were not officially confirmed by promoters and there have been no dates posted on the festival’s official website for several months."

    •  The Wall Street Journal writes that California-based Bolthouse Farms "is paying $500 to full-time hourly workers who get Covid-19 vaccines and is hosting inoculation events weekly at its main Bakersfield plant to deliver doses. Bolthouse executives meet multiple times a week to review how much of its staff has been vaccinated, how many people have been infected and other virus-related metrics."

    The company, the Journal writes, "is among the businesses large and small nationwide trying to get a majority of staff vaccinated to reduce the risk of on-the-job transmission and eventually, to relax some of the stringent and costly workplace-safety measures that have been in place for nearly a year."

    •  Business Insider reports that "Krispy Kreme will give away a free glazed donut to anyone who comes in with a COVID-19 vaccination card through the end of 2021."

    One twist to the program:  "There are no limits on the free donuts, so a vaccinated person could potentially go every day.

    "The chain will also give employees up to four hours of paid time off to get both vaccine doses."

    •  The Associated Press reports that "the scientist who won the race to deliver the first widely used coronavirus vaccine says people can rest assured the shots are safe, and the technology behind it will soon be used to fight another global scourge — cancer … The vaccines made by BioNTech-Pfizer and U.S. rival Moderna uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, to carry instructions into the human body for making proteins that prime it to attack a specific virus. The same principle can be applied to get the immune system to take on tumors."

    This isn't exactly reverse engineering.   The story says that using this technology to fight cancer was what Ozlem Tureci was working on when she first became aware of the Covid-19 coronavirus.  She changed her company's focus to fighting Covid-19, and now will be able to use revenue generated during the pandemic to fund her anti-cancer work.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    The main segment of Sunday's "Last Week Tonight" on HBO was a long piece about recycling in which host John Oliver eviscerated … well, almost everybody.

    It is worth watching, no matter what side of the issue you claim as your own.

    Note:  This definitely is NSFW - if you are around co-workers or your children are anywhere in hearing range, you may want to use headphones.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    •  The New Yorker has a long and detailed piece about the unionization battle taking place at an Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, that you can read here.

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    •  The Associated Press reports that "in the months since the police killing of George Floyd sparked a racial reckoning in the United States, American corporations have emerged as an unexpected leading source of funding for social justice …The trend signals a shift for large corporations, fueled by the evolving expectations of younger employees and consumers about corporate responsibilities to social causes."

    According to the piece, "Corporate giving to racial equity causes has far outpaced donations from foundations and individual philanthropists since Floyd’s killing in May, according to the philanthropy research organization Candid.

    "Companies donated or pledged about $8.2 billion of the $12 billion in total contributions that were earmarked for racial equity … Sizable commitments have come from corporations ranging from JPMorgan Chase, PayPal and Mastercard to Microsoft, Salesforce and the National Football League. Those pledges don’t even count other minority-focused investments, like a JPMorgan initiative to lend to minority home buyers and small businesses, that could eventually benefit the corporations themselves."

    Published on: March 22, 2021

    Got the following email from an MNB reader:

    In regards to Walmart opening up it’s marketplace to foreign sellers, I struggle to see where the value here is for the consumer.  While I’m sure this isn’t just a result of overseas sellers, one of the most frustrating parts of the Amazon experience is the flood of listings for similar or identical items, which cause confusion for the consumer.  I find little value in searching for a product and finding 64 listings for it, all with slightly different prices but in many cases an identical product image/description/specification.  It begs the question how many of these are the co-manufacturers themselves, or someone else further up the supply chain overseas, capitalizing on how easy it is to set up a seller account.  While this creates more “choice” for consumers, and certainly boosts bragging rights for a retailer in regards to “number of items available online,” at what point does it just make the shopping experience more exhausting for consumers? 

    Walmart, or other e-commerce platforms, stand the chance to differentiate themselves by “curating” an assortment of items or sellers for their shoppers, rather than just flooding their sites with as many listings as possible.

    I guess that it all depends on how appealing you find the notion of an "everything store."

    From another reader on the same subject:

    How does this work in conjunction to spending $250 million to source locally.  Seems they are working both sides of the street.

    Of course they are.

    Regarding Amazon's decision to spend $1 billion for exclusive Thursday Night Football rights, MNB reader Tom Murphy wrote:

    This is all about merchandise!  Click the button to buy your hat, jersey, cheerleader outfit, branded snacks and order in game from Doordash or Postmates. The future is endless and how do you think the NFL will feel about all those sales!  Now, Amazon just needs a top quality team in the booth...where is Dandy Don Meredith when you need him!

    No kidding.

    Last week we took note of a MarketWatch report that Ocado CEO Tim Steiner, who is partnering with Kroger in the building and operation of robotic distribution centers in the US, dismissed Amazon "as a 'very small competitor' in the grocery market, saying its home delivery offering was almost at an 'unnoticeable level'.

    One MNB reader responded:

    Gee, it’s déjà vu all over again.  What were they saying 25 years ago regarding Walmart????

    And finally … last week the Seattle Times reported that U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) challenging a Seattle City Council mandate requiring grocery store workers to be paid $4 an hour in "hazard pay" on top of their usual wages.

    In his opinion, the judge wrote, “Given the City’s findings that large grocery businesses have earned record profits during COVID-19 … and that grocery store employees are at significantly heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 … This is a reasonable grounds for the distinctions drawn in the Ordinance."

    MNB reader Howard Carr responded:

    The judge’s reasoning recited in your article is without precedent, or reasonableness.  While the City Council passed an industry specific mandate, and the judge based a portion of his decision on the fact that the grocery industry made hinge profits during this time frame, then it would only make sense that the law must be applicable to all business categories that had It’s workers deemed essential and continued to operate and made huge profits.  Since this was a Seattle issue, will this apply to Amazon, UPS, and Fedex and all its delivery people who delivered to everyone’s home and were exposed tot he virus?

    City councils have shown their propensity to pass ordinances that are based on political concerns rather than reality.  Does this mean all the workers in the meat processing plants, drug stores and restaurants that remained open should receive the same benefit?  This judge issued a ruling based on profits.  Would he have ruled the other way if the grocery operators had lost money?  

    From another reader:

    Presently our City Council is mulling over a "hazard pay" ordinance brought to them by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents a total of two supermarkets in our area.  Their claims; "record profits" and "this isn't what the supermarket employees signed up for".  (to work in a pandemic) 

    What I find most intriguing about all of this is no one is forcing anyone to work in the supermarket industry.  The lack of personal accountability in all of this is astounding.  And that the City Council may see themselves as accountable to resolve these issues without any skin in the game is also astounding.  Turnover in the supermarket industry is fairly high and the pandemic hasn't changed that for us.  We've had over 30 new Team Members come on board during the past year.  They chose to enter the supermarket industry during the pandemic.  And suddenly, if this legislation passes they are going to get hazard pay?  Imagine a future where the workforce seeks out hazardous industries to work in, and then lobbies for additional pay above and beyond what they agreed to upon hire.

    This is certainly a hot button topic and I don't mean to make light of it.  But come on folks, we are in America, the land of the free, and if you aren't into your current profession then find something else.    And to their credit, we had several do just that over the course of the past year.  And my hat is off to them.  Because that's personal accountability, a rarity in our day and age.