This Should Not Be Happening

Samsung Electronics to halt production at its last computer factory in China

mobile-reuters-com.cdn.ampproject.org

Sat Aug 1, 2020 / 3:52 AM EDT

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co will halt operations of its last computer factory in China, the South Korean tech giant said on Saturday, the latest manufacturer to shift production from the world’s second-biggest economy.

Companies are rethinking their production and supply chains amid rising Chinese labour costs, a U.S.-China trade war and the blow from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around half the 1,700 employees on contract at Samsung Electronics Suzhou Computer will be affected, excluding those involved in research and development, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday, citing a notice to Samsung staff.

The factory shipped $4.3 billion worth of goods out of China in 2012, a figure that had sunk to $1 billion by 2018, the Hong Kong newspaper said.

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on the factory’s revenue and shipments, or details regarding employees.

“China remains an important market for Samsung and we will continue to provide superior products and services for Chinese consumers,” the company said in a statement.

Samsung shut its last smartphone factory in China last year. Its remaining facilities include two semiconductor manufacturing sites in Suzhou and Xi’an.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by William Mallard)

https://mobile-reuters-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN24X3K4?usqp=mq331AQFKAGwASA%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reuters.com%2Farticle%2Fus-samsung-elec-china-pc-idUSKBN24X3K4#referrer

Foreign Worker Visas Are the Tech Industry’s Dirty Secret

foreignpolicy.com

Vivek Wadhwa 7-8 minutes

Google employees stage a walkout at the company's U.K. headquarters in London on Nov. 1, 2018 over the company's handling of sexual harassment.

DON’T LOSE ACCESS:
Your IP access to ForeignPolicy.com will expire on June 15
.

To ensure uninterrupted reading, please contact Rachel Mines, sales director, at rachel.mines@foreignpolicy.com. Argument

Trump’s suspension of visas will only prolong the recession. Here’s how to reform them instead.

Google employees stage a walkout at the company’s U.K. headquarters in London on Nov. 1, 2018 over the company’s handling of sexual harassment. TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week that bars hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States by suspending new work visas.

The argument against the most significant of these visas, the H-1B, has always been that that they harm employment prospects for Americans and depress wages. Some of the criticism is justified: The H-1B visa, which U.S. technology companies and outsourcing firms use to hire 85,000 new foreign specialists each year, is indeed problematic, because it puts both American and foreign workers at a disadvantage. These visas are the U.S. tech industry’s dirty secret. They tie the foreign workers to their jobs and allow the employer to pay them less than they could be earning—which drives down pay for American workers as well.

But the solution isn’t for government to lock the doors or try to control wages; it is to let competition on the labor market do its magic. The simple fix is to allow H-1B visa holders to work for any employer that pays them the highest wage or for the start-up that offers the most rewarding work.

This is something I have written about a lot, including in a 2012 book titled The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent. I warned then about the deep flaws in U.S. immigration policies and predicted that China and India would greatly benefit from these flaws—and, unfortunately, that prediction was correct. With help from workers who honed their skills in the United States but couldn’t stay, both of those countries have built innovation capabilities that rival the United States’, and both now have many technology start-ups valued in the billions of dollars.

Here is the problem: For decades, the United States has been bringing in large numbers of workers on temporary visas such as the H-1B, but it never increased the numbers of permanent-resident visas (“green cards”) available for those who want to stay. There are 140,000 green cards issued per year to employment-based visa holders, and the law stipulates that each nationality may receive no more than 7 percent of the total number of employment-based green cards. My research team  documented in 2007 that this limitation had trapped more than 1 million skilled immigrants and their families in immigration limbo. The Cato Institute found that number to be unchanged in 2020 and forecast that the backlog would increase to 2.4 million by 2030. Today, skilled Indian workers make up 75 percent of the employment-based backlog, and those who recently arrived face a wait of 90 years.

Technically, any H-1B worker can change jobs by filing a petition with the government, and some do take advantage of this rule. But there is a catch: The H-1B visa allows a path to permanent residency only when an employer sponsors a worker. And this is the carrot employers offer, one that most people coming to the United States want. Once they accept this carrot, they are trapped in immigration limbo because they can only change sponsoring employers or take new jobs at their current companies if the new job is in the same category and at the same level as the old one—otherwise they risk losing their status or having to reapply. Most don’t take the risk. Therefore, visa holders shun promotions and changes in their job description, leading to stagnating careers and lower salaries than they could otherwise make.

Opponents of the H-1B visa are correct in claiming that the visa disadvantages American workers, who are effectively competing with bonded labor. To the would-be immigrants, this indentured servitude is compounded by the employment restrictions that their spouses now face once again: The H-4 visas that permit them employment have also been suspended by Trump.

The overall problem could be fixed if the number of permanent-resident visas available for skilled workers was increased and the wait times decreased dramatically. But that is not going to happen in this era of pandemics and xenophobia. The most realistic solution is to untether the visa holder from the hiring company. In other words, allow an employee who enters the country on an H-1B visa and gets an offer of a higher salary to change jobs regardless of the status of his or her green-card application—without cumbersome additional paperwork. This way there’s no cheap labor anymore, and market forces take over. And, of course, the spouses of H-1B workers must not be prevented from working; no civilized society can place such restrictions on a group that is mostly women.

Technology companies don’t propose such a fix because it would cause them to lose power over the employee. Politicians won’t propose such legislation because it is not what tech-industry lobbyists want. Instead, we get a series of convoluted proposals that increase the role of government and disadvantage all workers, both American and foreign—and create the immigrant exodus.

Sadly, there is unemployment in the tech industry, and there are many heart-breaking cases of Americans being displaced by cheap foreign labor. This is not an acceptable situation, and it is why smart immigration reform would fix the salary disadvantage. Having more highly skilled, job-creating immigrants will lead to more innovation and more jobs. It will make the economic pie bigger for everyone.

The key to competitiveness is to allow the tech industry to hire the best talent, no matter where it comes from. The economy thrives on competition of every form, including technology and skill. Attacking immigrants and demanding that companies hire Americans over people who are more skilled, as Trump is doing, is the fastest way to destroy the United States’ remaining competitive advantages—and prolong the recession.

Vivek Wadhwa is a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program and co-author of From Incremental to Exponential: How Large Companies Can See the Future and Rethink Innovation, to be published in September. Twitter: @wadhwa

By Taboola

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/25/foreign-workers-visas-suspended-trump-tech-industry/

Dauphin County businesses gear up to go yellow, but many tourist destinations will have to wait for green

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/521-1cacaf26-64b6-40d9-8091-630959a8e378/amp#amp=1 local

Hersheypark, Hershey Gardens & The Hershey Story do not have a planned opening date Author: Jamie Bittner (FOX43) Published: 6:05 PM EDT May 28, 2020

Dauphin County business owners are preparing to move to the yellow phase Friday as popular tourist destinations like Hersheypark and Hershey Gardens stay closed as leaders wait for the county to move to green. 

RELATED: All of Pennsylvania poised for at least a partial reopening in next two weeks

Hersheypark spokesperson, Quinn Bryner, told FOX by email that the park continues to plan and implement a variety of new safety initiatives as recommended by government agencies and industry organizations that address coronavirus prevention in public places. However, Bryner added it is premature to discuss an opening date as “we understand it would require Dauphin County going green to reopen.”

The yellow phase will allow multiple businesses to reopen in the county. Meantime, Derry Township leaders have been tracking the impact of not only the business closures, but also the area’s major tourist destinations being shut down.

“Real Estate Taxes and Act 511 Taxes comprise 85% of the Township’s total revenues.  COVID-19 mitigation efforts will have a significant impact on our Act 511 Taxes, but how widespread?  The months of June, July and August will be very telling for the Township,” said Christopher Christman, Derry Township manager to FOX43 by email. “EIT, LST, Amusement tax and Parking tax will all be impacted by the shutdown.  The FY2020 budget includes a total of $2.3 million of Amusement and Parking Tax revenue, which has been impacted by Hersheypark’s inability to open during the pandemic.”

Christman said revenues in Derry Township are beginning to show weakness due to the mitigation efforts to control COVID-19, adding, “through the end of April, Act 511 taxes are down approximately 32% from where they were one year ago – all of this is attributable to the COVID-19 virus.  I cannot speculate as to when the park might open, but I can say with certainty, the revenue loss thus far this year will not be made up before the end of the fiscal year requiring the Township to find ways to close the revenue gap.”  null

FOX43 NEWS AT 4 AND 5

A tale of 2 places in the same county: One, preparing to reopen tomorrow in yellow. Another that can’t until the county goes green. How business owners are gearing up to bring in customers tomorrow, even as popular tourist destinations in Hershey stay shut down. WPMT FOX43 at 4 and 5! Knock Knock Boutique Hershey GardensPosted by Jamie Bittner on Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hershey Gardens is also closed until Dauphin County goes green. 

“Botanical Gardens are specifically listed as being able to open in the green phase,” sad Amy Zeigler, senior director of Hershey Gardens. Zeigler added museums as well open under the green phase so ‘The Hershey Story’ will also not open Friday. Both the Gardens and the museum are managed by The M.S. Hershey Foundation.

When both Hershey Gardens and ‘The Hershey Story’ open, Zeigler said both locations will have additional safety measures that include a requirement for masks and a touch-less ticket scanning system. 

“We will have timed tickets so everyone will have to purchase a ticket online,” said Zeigler. Inside Hershey Gardens, new signs are also on the floor to promote social distancing and plexiglass has been added to the cash registers.

“We’ll have people specifically designated to go around and clean high touch surfaces throughout the day,” said Zeigler. The butterfly atrium will also not be open.

“The only part of the gardens that we open is the outside, but it’s 23 acres as you can see of really fantastic beautiful space,” said Zeigler.

Normally, Zeigler said the Hershey Gardens would see close to 1,000 people per day on the weekends.

“Municipalities across the Commonwealth are all dealing with similar revenue issues in varying degrees, but one thing is for certain that we will all have to make tough choices to close our budget shortfalls,” said Christman.

Meantime Friday, many business owners were busy inside their shops preparing to open their doors once again as Dauphin moves to the ‘yellow phase’ Friday.

“I’m so excited to see people in person and having them shop almost like normal again,” said Emily Drobnock, of Knock Knock Boutique, who also owns Bella Sera on Chocolate Avenue. 

Drobonock said both shops are planning extra safety precautions under ‘yellow’ by allowing only 3 customers in at a time.

When asked if she worries about the decrease in foot traffic due to the shutdown of tourist destinations, Drobonock said “obviously tourists are great and we love seeing them. But, the people who we are really craving to see are our local supporters.” Loading … null

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/local/businesses-open-in-yellow-phase-in-dauphin-county-as-tourist-sites-stay-closed/521-b068f213-4e0f-4684-991a-b002cffb66e3?__twitter_impression=true

Pennsylvania is SLOWLY Coming Back to Life

Amazon customers in US report widespread website outage | fox43.com

nation-world

Tens of thousands of users reported they weren’t able to access Amazon on Thursday afternoon, according to Downdetector. Author: TEGNA, Associated Press Published: 4:25 PM EDT May 28, 2020

People across the United States reported having trouble accessing Amazon’s website on Thursday afternoon. 

According to Downdetector, a website that monitors website outages, people first started reporting that they were having trouble accessing the website at around 3 p.m. EST. The outage topped out at more than 76,000 reports and seemed to be effecting both desktop and mobile users. null

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that some customers “may have temporarily experienced issues while shopping, however it has now been resolved.” 

Amazon has yet to say what caused the brief outage. 

The Amazon outage came as many are stuck at home and using the online retail website to order and deliver items during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The pandemic has already reportedly forced the company to push back its annual Amazon Prime Day until at least August due to the unprecedented demand for deliveries and online shopping services after the coronavirus pandemic.https://d-24700453351698659575.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html https://d-24700453351698659575.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/nation-world/amazon-site-down-for-many-in-the-us/507-5a9d1e85-14de-4bba-b92e-7f2fe978dd63?__twitter_impression=true

Is TJ Maxx open during the coronavirus pandemic? | fox43.com

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/600-09d55bde-9bba-461a-ae58-98f5a98cf6e8/amp#amp=1 coronavirus

TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods plan to reopen most stores worldwide by end of June

The stores will have new measures in place to protect employees and customers, including requiring workers wear masks. Author: TEGNA Published: 2:18 PM EDT May 28, 2020

ASSOCIATED PRESS

As states begin to slowly reopen their economies, businesses are itching to get customers back inside stores.

For TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods shoppers worldwide, that opportunity will arrive quickly.

TJX Companies — the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods — announced it expected most company stores to be reopened by the end of June. null

“As various states and countries reopen for business, health and safety remain at the forefront of our decision making,” CEO and President of the TJX Companies Ernie Herrman said in a press release. “Although it’s still early and the retail environment remains uncertain, we have been encouraged with the very strong sales we have seen with our initial reopenings.”

RELATED: Tuesday Morning becomes 5th big retailer to file Chapter 11

RELATED: Walmart becomes a lifeline and online sales surge 74%

According to the company’s most recent fiscal report, as of May 2, more than 1,600 stores had already reopened worldwide.

In addition to U.S. locations, stores located in some Canadian provinces will also reopen. TJX stores in Germany, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands and Australia are already fully open.

In total, the company reported having 4,545 stores as of early May. 

Stores are taking precautions with requiring all employees to wear masks while working and posting signs indicating customers are also expected to wear masks while shopping. The company also said all associates must do daily health screenings and temperature checks.

The fitting rooms at U.S. stores have also been temporarily closed, and protective shields have been installed at the cash registers.

In addition, protective shields at registers and new cleaning regimens will be in effect for stores opening up.  Shoppers head into the TJ Maxx store in Barre, Vt., Monday, Aug. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot) ASSOCIATED PRESS null https://d-21712412392280885419.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/tjx-stores-plan-to-reopen/507-cd21fb4c-0ad0-4380-b7d4-14dff7fafe4a?__twitter_impression=true

Resolutions would end the emergency disaster declaration, but would need democrat support to take effect | fox43.com

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/521-5f5a7878-60c7-45ca-bd7c-de3890552466/amp#amp=1 local

Governor Wolf says, he will disapprove the resolution. The General Assembly would need a 2/3 majority to override the governor’s disapproval Author: Chelsea Koerbler (FOX43) Published: 5:15 PM EDT May 28, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. — There are two resolutions moving through the state house in their respective senate and house chambers. Both resolutions would do the same thing, terminate the COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration issued by Governor Wolf on March 6th. 

Republicans, State Rep. Russ Diamond, and State Sen. Doug Mastriano, are sponsors of the resolutions. Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Services Code defines the Governor’s authority to declare a disaster emergency but, the general assembly by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time. Governor Wolf says, he has the power to disapprove the resolution and intends to exercise that power if it does pass with a majority vote.  null

“I don’t see by a constitutional democratic perspective why this would make any sense,” said Gov. Wolf. “I do have the power to disapprove and I intend to.”  

Sen. Mastriano says, the resolutions would need a two-thirds majority to override Governor Wolf’s disapproval and get the resolution to take effect. Assuming all republicans vote in favor of the resolution, 26 democrats in the house, and six democrats in the senate would need to support it.

“It takes the unilateral power out of the governor’s hand and places it back in the hands of the general assembly,” said Sen. Mastriano. By terminating the declaration, it would get rid of the red, yellow and green phases, and allow Pennsylvanians to make their own decisions on what they feel comfortable doing. “The goal is we take the power out of the governor’s hands and put it back in the people’s hand so they can decide if they want to open up and how to open up and if they do it safely or just go back to normal operations.”

Governor Wolf says, by ending the emergency disaster declaration, the state would lose $1.5 billion dollars in FEMA funding. However, Sen. Mastriano says, the Trump Administration has assured him, the state would not lose that money if these resolutions took effect.

The emergency disaster declaration is set to expire June 4th. Within his powers as Governor, Wolf can either let it expire or extend it. The governor does intend to renew the emergency disaster declaration. His office tells FOX43: null

“The governor’s COVID-19 proclamation not only allows the commonwealth to more quickly procure much-needed resources to assist county emergency management and support our medical professionals and first responders, it makes us eligible for federal reimbursement for associated costs under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. We are still very much in need of federal funding in order to respond to and recover from this pandemic.” https://d-979871345335546688.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/local/resolutions-would-end-governor-wolfs-emergency-disaster-declaration/521-7b38e426-1549-4066-b460-499e5383ddca?__twitter_impression=true

Department of Labor & Industry offers tips to help claimants get questions answered quickly | fox43.com

https://media.fox43.com/embeds/mobile/video/521-5a114dd1-03a3-46e9-bac1-0ed878e95898/amp#amp=1 local

Even as unemployment benefits paid since March 15th tops $10 billion, some folks haven’t been paid and have been waiting weeks for an answer as to why Author: Chelsea Koerbler (FOX43) Published: 5:40 PM EDT May 26, 2020

As Pennsylvania has paid more than $10 billion in unemployment since March 15th, it is still taking days, and sometimes weeks for people to get in contact with unemployment to iron out any issues with their claims. 

RELATED: Have questions about COVID-19? Check out our resource guide

Many claimants are faced with busy tones when calling the Dept. of L&I or a message saying their email may take 49 days to get answered. The Dept. of L&I has been working to ensure quicker response times. It has added hundred of employees since March15th, and yet, some people are still waiting days, if not weeks to get answers about their claims.  null

The department offers these tips if you have questions: 

  • Email first. That puts you in a line to get your question answered. 
  • Try the online chat function. The department has continued to add more staff to the online chat function. Many of the employees hired by L&I are working the chat. 
  • If you need to call, your best bet is to call later in the week.

“i would say keep trying,” said Susan Dickinson, Department of Labor and Industry Office of Unemployment Benefits Policy Director. “I know some claimants that have gotten through in the last two weeks and others say they haven’t gotten through at all.” 

An entire troubleshooting guide as to what is wrong with your unemployment claim can be found here.  https://d-421694995197302393.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/local/tips-to-get-unemployment-questions-answered-as-quick-as-possible/521-7dc5c232-10c2-4f31-a5cf-ac69753d3aae?__twitter_impression=true

The Deadly Lockdowns

Iowa Climate Science Education

H/T to Paul Noel writing at Quora responding to the question:

How much impact would current shelter-in-place practices have on the climate crisis if we were to continue them indefinitely?

Don’t try it you will die. This is a common misunderstanding of medical treatments. If I shoot your heart with Epinephrine during a heart attack it may save your life. It may even take a second shot or a third to work. But don’t even consider doing it a 4th time.

You see this is how that drug works. It causes the heart which in a heart attack is already dying for lack of energy to burn through its energy reserves even faster. The few doses work but by the 4th dose the heart has no reserve energy. You couldn’t get it to move if you tried.

All of the “good things” you think are happening with the COVID-19…

View original post 446 more words

Petition · Save the USPS · Change.org

Save the USPS Mike Hidalgo started this petition to U.S. House of Representatives and 2 others The United States Postal Service employs over 500,000 people and is the #1 employer of veterans. Donald Trump has rejected a bill that would save it from running out of money in September: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-rejects-bailout-that-included-aid-to-usps-report-says-2020-4 Show those that wish to dismantle and privatize the USPS that we are against letting one of our prize institutions fail. Start a petition of your own This petition starter stood up and took action. Will you do the same? Start a petition Updates 2 minutes ago 50,000 supporters Text USPS to 50409 You can also help by texting, messaging, or tweeting USPS to Resistbot on SMS at 50409, iMessage, F… Mike Hidalgo 3 days ago 3 days ago 250 supporters 3 days ago Mike Hidalgo started this petition Reasons for signing Barbara Wiebelhaus·3 days ago #45 wants USPS to fail so no vote by mail. So, save USPS! 9 · Charles Dylan Comsa·6 hours ago The postal service is vital to rural and indigenous communities and is one of the largest employers of Veterans in the country. Also federally run post is affordable.

https://www.change.org/p/save-the-usps/sign?cs_tk=AiudTqoxAQ-jAkn6ml4AAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvBL_SXwLWvkOhLOtoHdI1gE%3D&placement=aa_sign_ask&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uALcYSAEAAAAAXpcFxDN9LfdiMWNlZThiOA%3D%3D&utm_campaign=f737736089124ef1a1fccb37fcda48f6&utm_content=exp_var_4_v0_0_4&utm_medium=email&utm_source=aa_sign_ask&utm_term=cs

Truckers working overtime, pleading with public to stop stockpiling

fox43.com

TENNESSEE, USA — The global pandemic is taking a toll on truck drivers. They’re making the long haul to restock shelves and pleading with the public to stop stockpiling so they can catch up. It’s a trucker’s job to transport items across the country so shelves aren’t barren. However, the public is making their job harder. Truck driver Quinton Pratt from Kodak has driven a truck for two decades. He said it’s something that is in his blood. He’s put in extra hours over the last few weeks to make sure restocks happen. “Whenever we’re working overtime, we’re doing our job, Pratt said. “Just let us do that.” He’s logged thousands of more miles since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, sometimes doubling his usual days. “Whenever you have 150,000 trucks delivering every day, if you have a million people buy the exact same thing over and over every day, multiple times a day, we can’t keep up with it,” Pratt admitted. His message to those stockpiling goods every day of the week? Stop. “If you’ve got to buy stuff, don’t do it every day,” Pratt begged. “You want to do it on Monday and Friday? Cool. You want to do it on Monday and Wednesday? That’s cool. It doesn’t got to be Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday. You know, you’ve got to stay home. Let us catch up.” Pratt admitted there are some silver linings to the pandemic, like fewer cars on the road. “The traffic I have to say ain’t as bad,” Pratt said. “That’s the good thing about the coronavirus.” He, and many others, are sacrificing their family time to provide for more. “But we’re out there missing those times with our family so you can go home and you don’t have to worry about it,” Pratt explained. On the long road ahead, Pratt said common courtesy for those 18-wheelers will lighten the load. “It’s good, carry on. It’s what you do. You just carry on,” Pratt smiled. The White House lifted hours of service restrictions on truck drivers carrying essential materials, like food and medical supplies. Truck driving advocate groups, like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, are pushing for those hours to be lifted for all loads during the pandemic.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/truckers-working-overtime-pleading-with-public-to-stop-stockpiling/51-3adec863-558b-4da1-9317-e9e804b9e2bd?__twitter_impression=true

Amtrak suspends Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian train lines due t

fox43.com

Keystone Service will be suspended starting Wednesday, while Pennsylvanian trains will stop on Thursday due to low demand, Amtrak said

Amtrak announced it is suspending all Keystone Service beginning Wednesday, and all Pennsylvanian trains on Thursday as part of the adjustment of services due to COVID-19.

The Keystone Service line travels from Harrisburg to New York City by way of Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania trains travel from New York City to Pittsburgh.

“While Amtrak continues to operate across the nation, we have adjusted some services due to significantly reduced demand in key markets,” Amtrak said on its website.

Amtrak is also adjusting service on its Northeast Corridor, Hartford, Valley Flyer, New York State, Cascades, Amtrak Downeaster, and Winter Park Express service lines.

Other services may also be impacted as circumstances change, Amtrak said. Café service will be suspended on some trains operating between Washington DC and New York City.

Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day, according to Amtrak.

Amtrak is waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020.

https://www.fox43.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/amtrak-suspends-keystone-service-pennsylvanian-train-lines-due-to-covid-19/521-9c64a0d3-c30c-4705-9966-f089a891a800?__twitter_impression=true

Toilet paper makers: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’

amp.cnn.com
By Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business Updated 6:28 AM EDT, Tue March 17, 2020

New York(CNN Business) As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, households across the country are hunkering down and emptying out store shelves.

Toilet paper has a become the ultimate symbol of the panic buying; it’s seemingly scooped up as soon as new rolls hit the shelves.

Companies that help supply these everyday paper products are stunned and trying to adjust to this rapidly evolving new normal in consumer behavior.

They’re faced with tradeoffs. Many were already operating their manufacturing facilities 24/7 prior to the pandemic. Now, some are limiting their facilities to essential workers and contractors. It’s unclear, however, what they will do in the event that those workers get sick.

“If you ask me why everyone is grabbing toilet paper, I can’t really explain it,” said Tom Sellars, CEO of Sellars Absorbent Materials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His company is a processor and converter of paper and related products. “It’s not like we are suddenly using more of it. But the surge in demand could strain the supply chain,” he said.

Georgia Pacific, the maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper, said that last week, some orders from retailers nearly doubled. The company managed to ship out 20% more than its normal capacity. And the American Forest & Paper Association, an industry group representing paper product makers, noted the industry is working hard to respond to the sudden spike in demand.

“Rest assured, tissue products continue to be produced and shipped — just as they are 52 weeks each year as part of a global market,” AFPA’s CEO Heidi Brock said in a statement.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy work for the factories.

The toilet paper shelves were nearly empty in this Miami store last week as people stocked up during the coronavirus crisis. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
How toilet paper is made

Toilet paper is made from one of two sources — virgin pulp from trees or recycled pulp obtained from materials like discarded copy paper that’s reprocessed and then turned into pulp.

Virgin pulp comes from Canada and the United States.

The pulp (virgin or recycled) is delivered to paper mills that turn it into large rolls of paper called “parent rolls” that are over 100 inches wide. The rolls then arrive at paper-coverting facilities, like the one run by Sellars.

“We purchase large rolls from mills and our equipment cuts and packages them into the designated end product like toilet paper or kitchen towels, depending on the quality of the paper,” he said. Packaging and shipping are the final steps in the chain.

So what happens when there’s an unexpected demand spike?

“Most mills are 24 hours, 7 days a week operations already. They are running on fixed capacity,” said Sellars. “It’s not like there’s an idle machine that can be cranked up to increase production.”

Retailers also have a set amount of toilet paper inventory. “What I suspect is happening right now is retailers are tapping into toilet paper inventory that’s sitting in their warehouses until they get more shipment from producers,” he said.

For suppliers, rapidly increasing production may not be feasible. So they might instead recalibrate factory production to make more of one type of product and less of another. “For example, less bathroom paper towels and more toilet paper,” said Sellars.

Consumer products company Kimberly-Clark (KMB), whose retail toilet paper brands include Scott and Cottonelle, said it is taking steps to accelerate production and reallocating inventory to meet current demand.

“We want to assure consumers that we are doing our best to ensure a steady supply of product to stores, and will continue to make adjustments to our plans as necessary,” the company said in a statement to CNN Business.

Another way suppliers are responding to the toilet paper craze: Some are cutting out distribution centers, sending trucks directly to and from paper factories to get product onto shelves more quickly, said Scott Luton, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio, a digital media company focused on supply chain management.

ST Paper & Tissue makes bathroom paper products from 100% recycled materials for businesses, hotels and schools.

Sahil Tak co-owns ST Paper & Tissue with his father Sharad. The company, in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, operates its own paper mills and makes both parent rolls and finished products like toilet paper and folded bathroom tissues.

All of its products are made from recycled paper primarily for commercial customers like hotels, hospitals, schools and offices. Tak calls it the “away-from-home” market, and it’s been less prone to panic buying than the market for toilet paper people use in their homes.

That said, it doesn’t mean his businesses hasn’t been impacted. Tak said he has been getting calls since last week from toilet paper producers for the home market asking if he has extra supply to share.

“Our supply is tight at the moment. We have over 200 employees running a 24/7 operation. So it’s not a question of more staffing to increase production but how to become even more efficient,” said Tak.

His bigger concern, however, is about the health of his employees.

“What we are dealing with here is uncharted,” said Tak, referring to the fast-spreading pandemic. “What if facilities have to shut down if workers become sick?”

That’s also a pressing concern for Rob Baron, CEO of Marcal Paper. The Elmwood Park, New Jersey company produces and markets its branded paper products, including Marcal toilet paper to both residential and commercial customers.

The company just resumed operations in January, a year after a fire destroyed its 80-year-old manufacturing facility.

“Our first step, before we even look at the demand spike, was to think about how to keep our people safe,” said Baron. “No visitors, no customers, no suppliers to the facility.”

Demand for Marcal toilet paper from retail customers is up over 25%, he said. “Paper machines already run 24/7. There’s only so much we can do with any incremental increase in demand because there is no surplus capacity.”

He’s making sure Marcal doesn’t add on any new customers for now. “We have to take care of our existing long-term customers and ensure supply to them first,” he said.

Another big worry: stockpiling toilet paper now could eventually hurt manufacturers’ sales down the road.

“We’ve all seen photos of people carrying shopping carts filled with toilet paper out of stores. They probably won’t buy more for three to four months,” Baron said.

“There will be a demand shock, and it will again strain the system.”

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/17/business/toilet-paper-supply-chain-coronavirus/index.html?__twitter_impression=true

— CNN Business’ Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.