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North American Edition
14th October 2021
Facebook internal discussion group access restricted
Facebook employees have been informed that the firm is limiting access to some internal discussion groups. Facebook provides staff online discussion groups on an internal message system called Workplace, where staff can cooperate or exchange ideas. In a memo to employees Tuesday, the social-media giant said it would restrict who can view group discussions on topics such as platform safety and election integrity, the company confirmed. The move to restrict internal data access was reported the New York Times. “Leaks decrease the effectiveness, efficiency, and morale of the teams working every day to address the challenges that come with operating a platform for billions of people,“ Facebook said. The company said such disclosures ”can also put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood.” The move comes after Frances Haugen, a former employee, gathered documents that formed the foundation of The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series showing the company’s platforms are riddled with flaws that can cause harm. Ms. Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on Facebook, viewed thousands of company documents, some of which she also shared with Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also has sought federal whistleblower protection with the SEC.
Boeing issues vaccine mandate for employees
Boeing management has informed employees in the U.S. that employees that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8, stating: “Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment." Jon Holden, president of International Association of Machinists District 751, noted that “It is our responsibility to defend and advocate for all our members." He said the union must defend “those who can’t or won’t accept the vaccine.” The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace said it is engaging with Boeing management “to ensure implementation gives proper consideration to members’ concerns.”
COVID-19 vaccine mandate non-compliance sees Boston city workers suspended
Some 812 Boston city employees were suspended without pay on Tuesday for non-compliance with authorities' vaccine mandate. Acting Mayor Kim Janey's office stated: “We continue to work closely with our diverse workforce, and our union partners, to ensure employees have access to vaccination, testing and verification systems to comply with the mandate.”
Deere & Company workers down tools
Thousands of unionized workers at agriculture equipment manufacturer Deere & Company have gone on strike after a contract proposal negotiated by the United Automobile Workers union was rejected. Chris Laursen, a worker at a John Deere plant in Ottumwa, Iowa, said with the firm on track to set a record of nearly $6bn “The company is reaping such rewards, but we're fighting over crumbs here.”
Lights, camera, strike action!
Hollywood film set crews are preparing for the biggest strike action since the 1940s next week amid an ongoing dispute with studios about working conditions. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) claims studios have ignored demands for shorter working hours, longer breaks between shifts, and pay raises for the lowest earners. The organization is also seeking tougher penalties for productions on which members are forced to work during their lunch breaks. 
Netflix facing staff walkout
A number of Netflix employees are to stage a one-day walkout as a protest against the firm's broadcast of comedian Dave Chappelle's latest show, which allegedly features transphobic remarks. One Netflix employee stated on a public company Slack channel: “I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day. ... As we've discussed through Slack, email, texts and everything in between, our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held."
Wage theft settlements agreed by trucking company
Trucking firm XPO Logistics has agreed to pay $30m to settle class-action lawsuits filed by drivers alleging that they earned less than minimum wage delivering items from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “Misclassification of workers is all too common in the ports,” noted Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He went on: “While XPO is notorious, there are far too many employers still cheating workers out of the pay and the rights they deserve.”
Fed's Brainard: climate scenario analysis a key tool in measuring bank risks
Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard says that financial regulators should direct the nation’s biggest banks to take new steps to manage climate-related risks as part of a broader effort to monitor potential hazards posed to the financial system. In a prepared speech, Brainard noted regulators face “substantial work” in closing data gaps and building new models to adequately gauge risks banks face from climate change. “Climate change could have profound consequences for the level, trend growth and variability of economic activity over time,” Ms. Brainard said. The coronavirus pandemic “is a stark reminder that extreme events can materialize with little warning and trigger severe losses and market disruptions,” she added. She also identified the need for scenario analyses that model projected revenue and losses for banks to differentiate between risks geographically and within different sectors of the economy. Those assessments would also need to account for an intensification of climate-related risks, at the regional or sectoral level, over time.
FDA says J&J COVID-19 booster aids immune defenses
Federal health regulators have stated that a booster of Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ COVID-19 vaccine appears to significantly reinforce the immune defenses of study subjects. FDA staff commented: “Although not independently confirmed by FDA from datasets, summaries of the data suggest there may be a benefit in a second dose administered approximately two months after the primary dose, when compared to the efficacy seen in the pivotal study” that tested only one dose of the treatment.
Gensler accused of overstepping bounds with push to regulate platforms
Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler has been accused of overstepping his authority with his attempts to expand the SEC's role in regulating cryptocurrencies.
Bourbon distillers face big tax bills and higher tariffs
For the first time there are more than 10m barrels of bourbon aging across Kentucky, and distillers set records by filling nearly 2.5m barrels in a single year. However, producers are contending with trade fights that hurt sales and a pandemic that is hampering tourism, along with an upcoming one-of-a-kind tax bill. Distillers in Kentucky are slated to pay more than $33m in aging barrel taxes in 2021, 140% higher than 10 years ago. Because bourbon-aging barrels are considered property, they are subject to property tax in Kentucky. “This is truly a historic and landmark record but that milestone comes with a cost,” Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, said about the record production and tax rates. “Every year that barrel ages, it is taxed again and again and again and again,” he explained. “If you’re drinking a bottle of 18-year-old Elijah Craig, that whiskey from that barrel had been taxed 18 times before it was bottled.” In addition to the aging-barrel taxes, Kentucky distillers are set to pay approximately $300m in state and local taxes, $1.8bn in federal excise taxes on alcohol, and new tariffs on exports. 

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