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News Roundup: Cashless App Hack Cost Customers $500,000

July 12, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

Amazon Spends $700 Million to Shuffle Workers as Company Automates Their Current Jobs

This week, Amazon announced it will spend nearly a billion dollars on worker training. What the company failed to mention is that this is a very expensive attempt to solve to a problem they created. The company’s relentless effort to replace its human workers with machines is rapidly kicking many employees out of jobs. It was recently reported that they are even using machines to fire some of their workers.

UFCW President Marc Perrone called out this publicity stunt, saying it is nothing more than a distraction from the fact that Jeff Bezos is determined “to automate every good job out of existence, regardless of whether it’s at Whole Foods, Amazon warehouses, or competing retail and grocery stores.”

Grocery Industry Feeling Pressure to Eliminate Cashiers

Facing pressure from Amazon Go’s cashierless model, many supermarkets are frantically shifting away from cashiers toward a tech-heavy strategy. Tesco, one of the world’s largest grocery chains, is testing a similar camera-based system in the U.K. to track and scan products customers pick up. In the U.S., Walmart is testing artificial intelligence-enabled cameras in a store in New York and Kroger recently launched a system that requires customers to scan and bag products as they shop.

While companies celebrate these technologies, there are many concerns about the impact on both customers and workers. Many cities and states have already passed legislation to ban cashless stores because they discriminate against 80 million Americans who rely on cash. A camera-heavy model raises a host of privacy issues. And customer service is also taking a hit with many stores struggling with understaffing after an over-eager expansion of self-checkout and other technology.

New Report: Automation is Increasing Economic Inequality

According to new research from MIT and Boston University, for the first time in 200 years, workers’ share of economic output is declining – most likely due to automation. In the 40 years after World War II, automation created new jobs quickly enough to balance out the jobs it eliminated.

But in the last 30 years, automation is failing to create the new jobs our economy needs. For the first time in modern history, automation isn’t necessarily good for workers overall. As a result, voters may soon demand public policy that controls technology’s effect on workers, since tech can’t be counted on to boost workers’ well-being overall.

Pizza Now Comes Without Cash in Australia

Domino’s is testing cashless stores at five locations in Australia, with customers only being able to use their card, contactless payments (like ApplePay or Android Pay) and PayPal to buy a pizza both in store and when they have orders delivered. This isn’t the first time the company has tried to remove humans from the equation.

Domino’s has also experimented with ordering from some car touchscreens as well as using drone and self-driving vehicle deliveries. With such an aggressive tech push by one of the largest companies in the industry, many customers may wonder how long before their pizza is made by a machine as well. With so many health and dietary restrictions, putting a robot in charge of our food may not be the smartest idea.

Number of the Week: $500,000

That’s how much hackers stole from 7-Eleven’s cashless app in the first week after its launch in Japan. It was suspended after nearly 1,000 accounts were used to make bogus charges. Government officials quickly stepped in to declare the service insecure and two men have been arrested. Hacks like the 7-Eleven breach are an example of hasty tech launches hurting consumers. One cybersecurity expert noted that, “Both major businesses and specialist start-ups are working in very aggressive and competitive marketplaces and they frequently have to release something as soon as possible without really thinking about security and privacy.”

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@www.ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

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