Alina Selyukh | KGOU
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Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For grocery delivery worker Willy Solis, the last straw came when the app Shipt changed his pay — in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

It wasn't the first time that Shipt, owned by Target, had tinkered with that formula. Solis had complained about smaller paychecks and lack of pay transparency. But now he and others like him were putting their health on the line to do their work. Solis decided he had to take action. From his home in Denton, Texas, he logged on to Facebook and started organizing a nationwide walkout.

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Neftali Dubon is used to seeing miles and miles of containers stacked up and down and back to back.

After all, he's a truck driver at some of the busiest ports in the country — Los Angeles and Long Beach — both shipping hubs for Chinese imports. But when the coronavirus lockdowns idled Chinese factories at the beginning of the year, drivers like Dubon were the first to start seeing their work dry up.

"I've never seen what I'm seeing now," he says. "Places where we would have stacks of containers, it's just ... empty."

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Amazon may have violated federal safety standards for providing "inadequate" protections to warehouse workers in New York, the state attorney general's office says.

In a letter to Amazon obtained by NPR, the office of New York's top lawyer Letitia James says the company may have also broken the state's whistleblower laws for firing a warehouse worker who helped organize a protest in Staten Island.

Amazon warehouse employees had been able to take unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus pandemic. But starting May 1, Amazon will instead ask workers who want to stay home to use their regular accrued time off or request a leave of absence.

Perla Pimentel lives in Orlando, Fla., home to Disney World and other popular resorts. She was an event coordinator who suddenly found herself with no events to coordinate in March. The tourist mecca has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We could tell that the company was hurting because we were watching all of our clients cancel," she says. "You don't really expect it to happen to you."

As a dog walker and pet sitter, Beverly Pickering relies on people not being home.

In fact, 70% of her business relies on people traveling. She's usually busiest during this time of the year — near Detroit, where she lives, lots of folks head out for spring break or to shake off their winter blues.

Instead, she's down to a few clients who are still paying her even though they don't need a dog walker. That, she says, is the thing that has kept her from panicking even as she's having flashbacks to the Great Recession, when she lost much of her retirement money.

Amazon warehouse workers are staging a nationwide protest against the company, an action that could be the largest yet targeting Amazon's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Searching for work right out of college is always hard. Now try doing that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and an economic meltdown.

Many students have lost income: jobs on campus or around town. They've lost internships, which help them build resumes. Now they are entering the workforce at a time when 22 million are filing for unemployment.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says "vastly more" COVID-19 testing is needed for the U.S. economy to reopen, while his company is building its own lab to potentially begin its own testing of all workers.

"We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon," Bezos wrote in a letter Thursday to the shareholders.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Retail spending is in a free fall — nosediving a record 8.7% last month — as more companies continue to furlough workers and stores, malls and restaurants remain shuttered across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The March drop was the largest monthly fall since the Commerce Department began tracking retail sales three decades ago. The previous record was a 3.9% drop in November 2008, during the Great Recession.

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery chain, has teamed up with the largest U.S. retail and food workers union in urging national and state officials to designate grocery employees as "extended first responders" or "emergency personnel."

The goal is for grocery workers to get a higher priority for COVID-19 testing and access to safety gear like masks and gloves and other protections. Stores have struggled particularly to access a steady supply of masks, which are in shortage. Health workers and other first responders are also desperate to get them.

Amazon is putting new grocery-delivery customers on a waitlist — among several new measures the retailer is trying to keep up with a crush of demand for food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company also announced plans to expand its hiring by 75,000 full- and part-time jobs. That's in addition to the 100,000 workers Amazon added in recent weeks.

Some runners are are still jogging outside, while others are posting joke videos about sprinting in place on soapy floors. Weightlifters are filling bags with canned goods and shoulder-pressing milk jugs. But what's a swimmer to do?

"Yeah, it's difficult. They call them dryland exercises," says Lauren Anneberg, a volunteer coach at the Capital YTri triathlon team in Washington, D.C.

Walmart faces a wrongful-death lawsuit from the family of a worker who died of coronavirus complications, one of two such deaths reported at the same Chicago-area store.

The legal complaint, one of the first such cases publicly known against the retailer, alleges that Walmart failed to properly respond to symptoms of COVID-19 among several workers at the store. It also alleges the company failed to share this information with workers and to safeguard them with gloves and other protections, or to enforce appropriate distancing, among other measures.

Whether you're a business owner or an individual trying to make ends meet because of the coronavirus pandemic, NPR wants to hear from you. How are you getting by? Are you an "essential" worker? Are you trying to get government support? How's that going?

Please fill out the form at this link here. Our reporters may contact you for a story featured on NPR.

Two employees of one Walmart store in the Chicago area have died after contracting the coronavirus. The company did not specify the timing of their illnesses, but said the store remains open after passing "necessary inspections" last week.

Walmart on Saturday will begin limiting how many people are allowed inside its stores at one time, reducing its capacity to roughly 20%, as a way to enforce social distancing.

The retail giant joins Target, Costo and other supermarket chains in deciding to count and restrict the number of visitors to keep shoppers at least six feet apart — from each other and from the workers — hoping to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the city's human rights commissioner to investigate Amazon over the firing of a warehouse employee who helped organize a worker walkout on Monday. The order, announced on Tuesday, follows the call from New York state's attorney general for a federal labor investigation into the firing.

Walmart plans to start checking workers' temperatures as they clock in and to offer them gloves and masks, the company said on Tuesday as it announced a series of new measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.

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