Alina Selyukh

Updated November 29, 2021 at 4:37 PM ET

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama are getting a new vote on whether to form the company's first unionized warehouse in the United States.

Holiday shopping season is always high-stakes for Saxon Shoes in Virginia — a time when people shop for several pairs at once and splurge on pricy winter boots.

This year came with extra worries: Would shoppers return after a pandemic freeze? Would Saxon's shoes get snared in the supply chain mess? And then, the question that turned out to be key: Would there be enough workers?

By every forecast and measure possible, this holiday shopping season is slated to be a record-breaker. In fact, this whole year's shopping spree is setting records that not even the Grinch could stop.

For 35 years, the discount chain Dollar Tree committed to selling almost everything for $1. Time has come to pass the buck: Prices for most items will increase to $1.25.

Each year, the value of a dollar is eroded by inflation, making a dollar price commitment more difficult to maintain. Last month, inflation reached the highest rate since 1990.

Costco has raised its minimum U.S. wage to $17 an hour, and Starbucks will raise its starting pay to $15 an hour. They join a growing list of chains that have added new incentives, trying to keep their workers in a year of mass resignations and stepped-up labor organizing.

Updated October 25, 2021 at 5:38 PM ET

Amazon warehouse workers in New York have taken their first formal step toward unionization on Monday.

Organizers from Amazon's Staten Island facilities say they've collected some 2,000 signatures from warehouse workers who say they want a union election.

Some 2,000 Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island have signed a call for unionization, according to organizers who on Monday plan to ask federal labor officials to authorize a union vote.

Mattress Firm, Claire's, Guitar Center — they're all recent bankruptcy survivors whose stores you might have passed in a mall, perhaps with their doors shuttered early in the pandemic.

But this year brought an unexpected, dramatic reversal, as these chains join a surprisingly long list of retailers who aim to find new life on the stock market, looking to go public.

Five members of a congressional committee say Jeff Bezos and other Amazon executives misled lawmakers and may have lied under oath, according to a Monday letter to Andy Jassy, who succeeded Bezos as CEO in July.

If Santa is reading this, his sleigh and reindeer are urgently needed for help.

Toy-makers are warning of emptier shelves and pricier toys this holiday season. Their supplies are ensnarled in an unprecedented shipping crisis — floating traffic jams of container ships wallowing near key U.S. ports.

When Curtis McGill helped launch a small Texas toy company, he did not picture himself in this boat: up all night bidding eye-popping sums of money for space on a trans-Pacific ship.

People lick their fingers, touch money and hand it to you. They take money out of bras or hand you bills soaking wet with lake water. When you become a grocery cashier, says Rachel Baker, you quickly learn that retail is really filthy.

Updated September 11, 2021 at 12:07 PM ET

Six U.S. senators are calling for a federal probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees at its warehouses. It's the latest push by lawmakers across the country to focus regulatory attention on the working conditions for the company's ballooning workforce.

California lawmakers have passed a first-of-its-kind legislation that would give Amazon and other warehouse workers new power to fight speed quotas, which critics say have forced workers to skip bathroom breaks and skirt safety measures.

The bill, if signed by the governor, could also make public more comprehensive details about the demands Amazon makes of its warehouse staff, specifically about the impact of speed quotas on the workers' health.

On a gray, dreary February day, Marguerite Adzick looked out on ice caps floating off a desolate beach along the Jersey Shore. The coronavirus was surging. Mass vaccinations had barely begun. And she had just told her investors she was about to sign a lease on her first brick-and-mortar clothing store.

"They were just, I think, speechless," says Adzick, whose store, Addison Bay, sells women's activewear. "I think me even saying it out loud ... was a little comical. But we ran the numbers. We knew it would work."

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama may get a second chance to vote on whether to form the company's first unionized warehouse in the United States.

A federal labor official has found that Amazon's anti-union tactics tainted this spring's election sufficiently to scrap its results, according to the union that sought to represent the workers. The official is recommending a do-over of the unionization vote, the union said in a release.

For a while there, it seemed like things were finally heading back to normal. Now, not so much.

In the span of just a week, plans for a September return to the office have been pushed back. Mask mandates have made a comeback. And a growing number of employers, including the federal government, are laying down the line on vaccines.

Susan Curp was on a quick run to the store when her 13-year-old daughter spotted something she couldn't pass up: back-to-school sales. Notebooks covered with llamas and palm trees. Pens, pencils and even a case for the scented sanitizer — sparkly, of course.

"I think she's excited to ... get organized and just have a little more normalcy in her life," Curp says.

Curp's daughter has a twin brother who's far less into back-to-school shopping. But he, too, will have to do it — because a lot has changed during the year and a half of the coronavirus pandemic.

Moments after returning from the edge of space, Jeff Bezos thanked the Blue Origin team that made his flight possible. He also thanked the Texas town of Van Horn, which hosted Tuesday's launch. And then he said this:

"I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, 'cause you guys paid for all this. ... Thank you from the bottom of my heart very much."

A wooden spoon gliding over cast iron. Barely tall enough to see over the stove, Lamar Cornett watched his mother, a cook, make his favorite dish of scrambled eggs.

That first cooking lesson launched a lifelong journey in food. Cornett has spent over 20 years in Kentucky restaurants, doing every job short of being the owner. The work is grueling and tense but rewarding and rowdy, and so fast-paced that the pandemic shutdown was like lightning on a cloudy day.

"It was almost like there was this unplanned, unorganized general strike," Cornett said.

Updated July 6, 2021 at 4:22 PM ET

The Defense Department is scrapping its $10 billion cloud-computing contract with Microsoft, ending the award process that's been mired in a legal battle with Amazon.

The Pentagon's announcement on Tuesday ends what has been a complicated and highly politicized saga of one of the most lucrative military tech contracts in U.S. history.

Updated April 9, 2021 at 1:28 PM ET

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will not be forming a union.

The vast majority of votes cast by Amazon's workers in Bessemer, Ala., were against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in a stinging defeat of the union drive. The final tally showed 1,798 votes against unionizing and 738 votes in favor of the union.

Updated April 8, 2021 at 3:35 PM ET

The results of the 2021 election that everyone has been awaiting with bated breath are taking a while.

Blame it on mail-in votes. Yes, this one, too.

Saks Fifth Avenue is going fur-free, becoming the latest fashion seller to take animal-fur clothes and accessories off its shelves.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The vote count for one of the most consequential union elections in recent history begins this week. The results could lead to Amazon's first unionized warehouse in America.

Voting officially ends Monday for some 5,800 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., who have been casting ballots by mail on whether to unionize. It's the first union election in years at Amazon, the country's second-largest private employer with 800,000 workers.

Joyce Barnes sometimes pauses, leaving the grocery store. A crowd shifts past, loaded up with goodies. Barnes pictures herself, walking out with big steaks and pork chops, some crabmeat.

"But I'm not the one," she says. Inside her bags are bread, butter, coffee, a bit of meat and canned tuna — a weekly grocery budget of $25.

Lina Khan, a prominent antitrust scholar who advocates for stricter regulation of Big Tech, may be about to become one of the industry's newest watchdogs.

President Biden on Monday nominated Khan to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency tasked with enforcing competition laws. She is the splashiest addition to Biden's growing roster of Big Tech critics, including fellow Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, who announced earlier this month he would join the National Economic Council.

Updated March 12, 2021 at 1:02 PM ET

Jennifer Bates often finds peace by drinking tea on her patio. But these days, to use her words — the butterflies have filled up her stomach and won't go away.

"Butterflies normally come to calm me," Bates says. "But this is ... nerve-racking to think I don't know how it's gonna go."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Costco plans to edge up its starting wage to $16 an hour starting next week, CEO W. Craig Jelinek said on Thursday, revealing plans that would propel his company ahead of most of its retail competitors.

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