Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! I’m being serious – the Cubs won the World Series. Let that sink in. And like that, the 108 year old curse is broken. This World Series was already great, featuring two teams with a combined 174 years of heartache and baseball agony. But game seven was the type of back and forth battle that MLB executives dream about when they envision a World Series. When the Indians tied the game in the eighth inning, I had a very familiar thought, seeing that I am a Red Sox fan and all – they are going to blow this. Even when they went up two runs in the tenth inning, there was still that feeling that something has got to happen. But it didn’t. The Indians put one run on the scoreboard, but that was all they could muster. So on a mild November night (very early morning to be precise), the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in 108 years. Congrats Chicago!
And now, on to the news.
- EU, Canada sign landmark free-trade agreement
- Amazon in the news:
- Walmart builds vending machine for online orders
- ELD mandate upheld in court
- Uber drivers entitled to workers’ rights
The European Union and Canada finally signed off on a long-delayed trade deal this week. Due to a number of setbacks, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) almost didn’t happen. After seven years of negotiations, it marks the first agreement the European bloc has negotiated with another major industrialized economy. CETA aims to revoke roughly 9,000 tariffs, covering many industrial goods and agricultural and food items, including beef and fish. It also promises to open up competition in the services sector, including in banking and insurance. The deal can be applied provisionally once the European Parliament also ratifies it in December. But for it to be fully put in place, it will have to be ratified by the EU’s more than 30 national and regional parliaments.
Amazon has announced that it is bringing a version of its Prime membership program to customers in China. The program is designed to compete with local rivals like Alibaba and JD.com, and will cost 388 yuan ($57.23) per year after the first year, which has a discounted rate of 188 yuan ($27.80). The program will include free cross-border shipping from the Amazon Global Store as well as no minimum free domestic shipping. This gives members access to over 4 million international products from the Amazon Global Store. Unlike the US version of Prime, however, the program will not have other perks, such as streaming videos and music available. The launch coincides with Amazon’s third Global Shopping Festival, which runs until December 2, 2016.
Amazon is also expanding its locker program. Since July, about 40 banks of big yellow Amazon Lockers have been installed at 7-Eleven and QuikTrip stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The lockers allow customers to pick up items rather than have them left at their door. If customers do not pick up the items in 3 days, the item is automatically returned and a refund is given. And last week, Irving Mall became the first local mall to get the online shopping leader’s self-service lockers, which handle both delivery and returns. The mall is one of 50 owned by Washington Prime Group that is installing lockers in time for the holiday rush.
Walmart is continuing to push its e-commerce technology with a new method for buy online, pick-up in-store fulfillment. In a test at one of its’ Bentonville, AK stores, the retailer has built a giant tower that acts as a vending machine for online orders. The machine, named automatic pickup machine internally, is so big that the company had to remove a chunk of the ceiling to fit it inside the store. When a customer orders an item online, they receive an order number. Upon arrival at the store, the customer enters the order number into the machine, and the machine spits out the package like a vending machine. Walmart has tested lockers as well, but developed the tower to hold more packages and offer the ability to adjust the size of the compartments where packages are kept. The test is still ongoing, but it will be interesting to see if this is rolled out nationwide.
A federal mandate requiring nearly all U.S. truck operators to use electronic logging devices (ELD) to track duty status has been upheld in court. This means that the December 18, 2017 compliance date remains in effect. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of two truckers in March in an attempt to have the mandate overturned. After hearing oral arguments in Chicago on September 13, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court overseeing the case, voted to keep the mandate in place. The ruling does not change the exemption for trucks manufactured before the year 2000.
In a bold decision, a London tribunal ruled that drivers for Uber are entitled to workers’ rights including paid holidays and the minimum wage. Uber is planning on appealing the decision. This ruling could affect up to 30,000 drivers in the city, and could have an impact on other markets as well. The company recently offered $100 million to settle a class-action suit by drivers in California and Massachusetts who sought to be treated like regular employees, but the settlement was rejected by a judge in August. With Uber entering into the trucking, last-mile, and logistics space, this could have a major impact on their business planning moving forward.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and in honor of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, the song of the week, Steve Goodman’s Go Cubs Go.