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News Roundup: 10 Minutes for One Sprite

October 4, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

Amazon Go Struggles to Provide Easy Cash Option

With San Francisco recently requiring all business to accept cash, Amazon Go is scrambling to fix their business model, criticized for discriminating against many low-income consumers who lack access to banking and other card payment options.

It took 10 minutes to pay $1 in cash for a single can of Sprite for one recent customer.

That includes the time needed for someone to let you into the store, the time to find someone to check you out, the time to have the cash checkout cart brought from the back, and then finally, the time required to actually check out. After all that, they couldn’t even offer a receipt – they were out of paper. Not included in that equation? The time to actually drink that Sprite you bought. For the millions of Americans who count on cash for everyday purchases, not a very advanced or convenient business model.

Tech’s Next Target? Self-Employed Workers

These members of the workforce may have the most to lose from the rise of artificial intelligence. That’s according to research from the University of Buffalo that shows that self-employed jobs in sales, driving, agriculture and construction are most at risk from the rise of artificial intelligence.

The independence provided by being your own boss may be partly to blame because “occupations that require employees to work together, negotiate and make decisions are less likely to be eliminated.” That’s because currently, AI simply can’t do those tasks well (or at all).

Airports and Movie Theaters Ditching Customer Service?

Prices for movie tickets and anything at an airport are already sky high. And they’re getting more expensive every year. Now, airports and theater owners are ready to charge these same high prices with even less customer service. A new report shows that the cashless business model pushed by Amazon will soon show up at airports and cineplexes across the country.

With an aggressive plan to push this cashless platform into hundreds of stores in 2020, this is part of a bigger and relentless effort by Amazon to take humans out of the retail equation and make more businesses reliant on the tech giant’s platform. Ask anyone about a delayed flight or sold-out movie experience and you definitely won’t hear them say they wished there were fewer people to help them solve the problem.

Number of the Week: 56 Percent

That’s the share of national income that is actually going to American workers, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. That number is down by nearly 10 percent in just the last 20 years. All this is despite the fact that worker productivity continues to go up.

A key reason cited by the report: “wages have been kept much lower than they would have without the rise of robotics and automation.” This is just one more reminder that the aggressive push toward automation is having a real impact on American workers struggling to make ends meet even as many corporations rake in record profits.


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.