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Apple Store workers in Georgia call off union vote over intimidation claims

Less than a week before its scheduled date, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have decided to withdraw a formal vote on unionization for Apple Store employees at Atlanta's Cumberland Mall location. As first reported by Bloomberg, the union — which has recentlyinvestedheavily in organizing tech workers — opted to hold back as a result of what it called "Apple’s repeated violations of the National Labor Relations Act." 

The withdrawal follows weeks of escalating tensions between Apple and its retail staff. Shortly after Cumberland had gone public with its intentions it was reported Apple had retained Littler Mendelson, the same law firm Starbucks — which is undergoing a wave of store unionizations — has engaged. The firm's website states: "we excel in union avoidance." Shortly after, Apple corporate began circulating anti-union talking points to managers and Atlanta workers claim they were being force into so-called "captive audience meetings," a hallmark of union-busting campaigns. Earlier this week, audio leaked of an Apple VP, Deirdre O’Brien, expressing why she believed a union was a poor fit for the company. That message was reportedly sent to all 65,000 of Apple's retail staffers.

In a statement today, CWA stated that Apple's actions "have made a free and fair election impossible.” The group also expressed concern that COVID cases among the store's staff might further jeopardize their ability to vote in person. 

One of the most significant reasons behind Cumberland staffers' decision to organize has been simple economics. In talking with Engadget, one of the store's workers, Elli Daniels, described stagnant wages that had failed to keep pace with either national inflation or local increases to cost of living. Notably, Apple has been one of the few companies to thrive under pandemic conditions, posting several consecutive record-breaking quarters. 

Perhaps in an effort to stave off unrest among retail staff (Cumberland is onlyone of the stores currently exploring unionization) Apple has stated it will increase pay to a starting wage of $22 per hour. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full-time and part-time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits,” Apple told press today in a statement. (The pay increase, incidentally, was reported several hours after the aforementioned union-avoidance audio leaked to press.)

While an immediate setback, the withdrawal does not preclude CWA from attempting another union election — though it will have to wait at least six months to refile.

Analogue Pocket's first major update arrives in July

The Analogue Pocket is finally getting some of the important feature updates promised at launch. As The Vergenotes, Analogue has promised a Pocket OS 1.1 beta in July that will add the expected Library, Memories and FPGA development features. You can expect advancements to arrive "regularly" after that, according to the company.

Library will amount to an encyclopedia for classic games. Insert a cartridge and you'll ideally learn everything about your specific copy of a game, including play guides and publisher details. Memories, meanwhile, lets you create save states and screenshots. Although Analogue hasn't fully explained the development expansion, this will likely let programmers use the Pocket's second FPGA. They'll have access to the OS, hardware and features like Memories.

There's no mention of why 1.1 is taking so long. However, the delay was substantial. Analogue said in December that Library and Memories would be ready in January, but they're now appearing several months later in a rough form. Not that the wait will matter if you aren't already an owner. New pre-orders won't get their Pockets until 2023, so this is is more a kindness to early adopters than anything else.

The best smart home and kitchen sales we found for Memorial Day

If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your home with the latest gear, this weekend might be the time to do so. From robot vacuums to Instant Pots, there are a number of great sales for connected appliances and kitchen gadgets for Memorial Day this year. As you can imagine, there are quite a lot of them, so we’ve collected some of the best ones below.

Anker Eufy RoboVac 11S

Anker Eufy
Engadget

Anker’s Eufy RoboVac 11S is one of our favorite budget robot vacuums thanks to its slim profile, smart features and affordable price. Now it’s even cheaper at just $150. It doesn’t have WiFi, but it does have a remote control. It also has three different modes so you can pick just how powerful you want the suction to be.

Buy Eufy RoboVac 11S at Amazon - $150

Anker Eufy RoboVac 15C Max

Anker eufy
Amazon

If you want an upgrade, however, the Anker Eufy RoboVac 15C Max is also on sale for $250, or 11 percent off its normal price. It has features like WiFi, stronger suction and it charges itself when it’s low on power. Plus, the 15C Max is compatible with either Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant.

Buy Eufy RoboVac 15C Max at Amazon - $250

iRobot Roomba i3 EVO

iRobot Roomba
iRobot

Those with pets might want to consider the iRobot Roomba i3 EVO at just $280, which is 20 percent off its retail price of $350. It has dual multi-surface rubber brushes that can handle any floor type while staying tangle-free. The i3 EVO is also pretty smart. In addition to Alexa or Google integration, it can learn the layout of your home and create an “imprint smart map” so that you can easily tell it which room to clean and at what time. It will even learn your tidying habits over time and suggest extra cleaning if needed.

Buy Roomba i3 EVO at Amazon - $280

iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO

iRobot Roomba
iRobot

Want a version that empties itself? Then get the iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO for $450 (18 percent off $550), which comes with a Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal unit that can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt and debris so you only need to clean it every couple of months.

Buy Roomba i3+ EVO at Amazon - $450

Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer

Ninja Foodi
Ninja

Sometimes you just want to air fry two different foods at once, and the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer (on sale for $155) lets you do that with ease. It was our pick for best dual-zone air fryer because of how quickly it heats up and its quiet operation. It was also smart enough to adjust cooking times so that the two baskets will finish cooking around the same time.

Buy Ninja Foodi Dual Zone at Amazon - $155

Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot
Instant Pot

The Instant Pot, everyone’s favorite multicooker, is also on sale this weekend – it’s now $79, down from $100. The Duo is one we recommend for most people, as it’s easy to use and can perform multiple functions. This model can sauté, cook rice, slow cook, pressure cook, sterilize, keep food warm, and make yogurt. You can find out how to make the most of your Instant Pot with our guide.

Buy Instant Pot Duo at Amazon - $79

Google Nest Audio

Nest Audio
Google

You can now pick up Google's Nest Audio smart speaker for $65 from Adorama. Or, if you want two, you can grab a pair for just $120. That's an especially great deal if you're in need of a stereo setup. Google's Nest Audio has excellent audio quality too, and you can link it up to your choice of music streaming service. Of course, it's powered by Google Assistant, so you can ask it to play whatever you like, ask for the weather forecast, your day's appointments, the local sports scores and more.

Buy Nest Audio (2 pack) at Adorama - $120Buy Nest Audio at Adorama - $65

Google Nest Hub

Nest Hub
Engadget

Google's Nest Hub smart display is down to just $65, and the Nest Hub Max is also on sale at Adorama for $179. The Hub Max is geared more for communal areas like the living room or the kitchen, while the smaller Hub is geared more for private spaces like the bedroom. That's also why the Hub doesn't have a camera, while the Hub Max does (you can use it to make video calls on Google Duo as well as Zoom). Google's smart displays are great not just for viewing Nest Cam footage but also watching YouTube clips, getting step-by-step cooking instructions or just controlling the rest of your smart home. 

Buy Google Nest Hub at Adorama - $65Buy Google Nest Hub Max at Adorama - $179

Amazon Echo Show 8

Amazon Echo Show 8 and 5 review
Engadget

Not to be left out, Amazon's Echo Show 8 and Show 5 are discounted today too: the larger model is now $100 while the 5-inch smart display is $50. The Echo Show 8 is our personal favorite of the two, as it's not as large as the Show 10, but not quite as small as the 5. It's great for watching videos, viewing photos, looking up recipes and more. The Show 8 is especially wonderful for video calls as it has excellent camera quality plus an auto-framing feature that will focus on you and follow your movements as you chat. 

If you prefer a smaller display, however, the Show 5 is fantastic too. It works much better as a smart alarm clock as it's sized to fit perfectly on a nightstand. Like all Echo Shows, you can tap the Show 5 to snooze and it has a sunrise alarm that will gradually brighten the display to wake you up. 

Buy Echo Show 8 at Amazon - $100Buy Echo Show 5 at Amazon - $50

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