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An Amazon warehouse in Germany. Photo: Ronny Hartmann/AFP via Getty Images

Warehouse workers in California would gain more legal pathways to fight speed quotas set by employers under a bill passed Wednesday in Sacramento that addresses a growing trend at some of the country's largest workplaces.

Why it matters: This bill is the first of its kind and could help ensure the safety and well-being of a massive and growing workforce.

Background: Warehouse jobs have ballooned in recent years, with Amazon leading the charge with over 950,000 workers across the United States — rising to the place of the second-largest employer in the country.

  • Amazon has drawn scrutiny for such demands, even as the productivity metric is being adopted across the industry, per NPR.
  • Amazon warehouses rack up twice the rate of injuries compared to the industry average, according to an investigation by Reveal.

Details: The bill creates pathways to appeal to employers if workers can't safely meet quotas or take breaks they are entitled to.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated whether he'll sign the bill, per NPR.

What they're saying: "It's the first step in changing working conditions in the warehouse," Veena Dubal, a labor law and technology expert, told NPR.

  • The other side: "[Do] we need this broad, sweeping legislation [that] impacts every aspect of the supply chain in California? I don't think so," Rachel Michelin, head of the California Retailers Association, told NPR.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 5, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on workforce development

On Tuesday, October 5, Axios media reporter Sara Fischer, publisher Nick Johnston and executive editor Aja Whitaker-Moore discussed the value of workforce development in a rapidly changing job landscape, featuring Sen. Mark Warner, Rep. Alma Adams and Spelman College president Mary Schmidt Campbell

Sen. Mark Warner underscored the importance of investing in human capital and explained his recent efforts to include a worker training tax credit in the reconciliation package.   

  • On incentivizing companies to invest in their employees: “If I could wave my magic wand, I would create a new tax credit for businesses that invest in workers, and I would give them the bigger tax credit for low-income and lower skilled workers.”
  • On the increasing amount of jobs that require high-level skills: “We think about giving workers more freedom to choose a future career, but I do think we need to match that with a little better assessment of what kind of careers are out there, recognizing that not all careers are going to require four-year college degrees, but they are going to require additions beyond high school.”  

Mary Schmidt Campbell explained how Spelman College prepares students and adult learners to adapt to the contemporary workforce, additional steps the government could take to invest in skill development for workers, and how to incentivize employees to improve their own skills.  

  • On preparing students to navigate an uncertain job market: “It’s really imperative for those of us who are in the field of education to think about how we educate for the future. Whatever job exists now could potentially disappear in the next five years.”  
  • On how companies can inspire their workers to develop new skills: “I think it is a powerful incentive when a company says to its employees, as a matter of your employee benefits, just as you’re entitled to health care or dental care or vision care, we are also going to provide for you to be upskilled.” 

Rep. Alma Adams outlined how HBCUs are developing a talent pipeline for the future, current campus conversations illuminating students’ career concerns, and how to ensure students from community colleges also benefit from workforce development initiatives.  

  • On input from the HBCU community detailing their priorities for growth:  “I’m hearing that we need to upgrade our campuses, we need to make sure that we have the technology that’s appropriate to train this workforce. We want to make sure that we can attract not only good students, but good faculty and staff, and have the kind of research that is commensurate with what we need to do to make sure that we have not only a good workforce, but one that is sustainable.”
  • On why it is critical to upskill workers to meet marketplace demands: “We’ve got a lot of jobs out here. We don’t have many people who are prepared and trained to do them.”

Axios SVP of Events and Creative Strategy Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with Pathstream CEO Eleanor Cooper, who emphasized the growing demand for workers with multifaceted digital skills. 

  • “Obviously there’s been a large growth in online education since the COVID pandemic, and we see that different learners from different backgrounds with different jobs to be done need different solutions. What we’re talking about here is solving the problems for individuals who face more barriers and more hurdles in the labor market, and those individuals need more than online videos alone.”

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event. 

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.