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IBM expanding P-TECH, STEM program for underserved

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Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty believes employers are missing out on skilled workers who don’t get a traditional four-year college degree.

“As an employer, you have to open up the pathways to bring people in that may have gotten a skill and not through a four-year degree,” Rometty said. “One of the things that you have to break through is a paradigm that a company says, ‘Boy, if I hire people that are associate degree or come through an apprentice program, I am watering down my workforce.’ That is absolutely factually not true.”

To help with this goal, an IBM-created program that brings training and job opportunities to high school students from communities with high concentrations of poverty is expanding, Rometty said Thursday at CNBC’s Inclusion in Action Forum

Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, Pathways to Technology, or P-TECH, offers a six-year program for students complete high school requirements and obtain an associate degree. The program focuses on STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and includes mentorship, internship and job opportunities. Each program is done in partnership with a high school, community college and industry partner, and about 600 companies are now participating.

The program will now operate more than 200 schools in the United States and nearly 100 globally. Currently, there are about 100 P-TECH schools operating in 11 states, with the bulk in Texas, New York and Maryland. 

Rometty said that its first cohort of students graduated at 4 times the on-time community college graduation rate, while 75% of its total students have gone on to earn their four-year degree.

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DoorDash settles with DC AG over claims it misled users

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A DoorDash Inc. delivery person places an order into an insulated bag at Chef Geoff’s restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DoorDash reached a $2.5 million settlement with the attorney general of the District of Columbia over claims that the company misled consumers on how it would allocate tips for workers, the AG’s office announced Tuesday.

AG Karl Racine sued DoorDash in November 2019 over allegations the company misled customers into believing their tips would directly increase drivers’ pay. Instead, Racine alleged at the time, those tips were used to offset the minimum payment DoorDash promised its workers under the previous tipping model in effect between 2017 and 2019. DoorDash has since revised the policy.

Under the settlement, DoorDash will be required to continue ensuring tips go to workers without reducing their base pay and provide accessible information about its payment model and policies to customers and workers.

The settlement will include $1.5 million in relief to delivery workers, $750,000 to the District and $250,000 to two local charities, according to a press release from the AG’s office.

“Today’s settlement rights a wrong that deceived D.C. consumers and deprived workers of monies that they should have been paid,” Racine said in a statement. “Gig economy companies provide important and necessary services, especially during the pandemic. However, the law applies to these companies, just as it does to their brick and mortar counterparts.”

DoorDash did not immediately provide a comment.

The settlement comes less than two weeks after DoorDash filed its prospectus to go public. DoorDash said in its filing that failing to “cost-effectively attract and retain Dashers” was a significant risk factor to its business.

DoorDash is not the only gig company to have gained attention for its tipping policies. Racine filed suit against grocery delivery company Instacart this summer, claiming it misled customers into thinking an optional service fee went to workers, when it instead went to the company. In a statement at the time, Instacart said it always discloses to customers that tips are separate from service fees and notes that those fees goes toward its operations. It said 100% of customer tips go to workers.

Both companies have been active in pushing back on regulation that would classify their workers as employees rather than contractors. They backed the successful Proposition 22 in California alongside Uber, Lyft and Postmates to keep app-based delivery and transportation workers as independent contractors. Employment status could bring additional costs to the companies.

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WATCH: How gig workers are surviving the pandemic


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Senate Democrats ask YouTube CEO to remove election misinformation

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Susan Wojicki CEO of YouTube speaking at the 2019 Code Conference on June 10th, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Asa Mathat | Vox Media

Several senate democrats wrote a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Monday evening, inquiring about the election misinformation it is still hosting on its platform and demanding that it be removed.

Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gary Peters of Michigan, Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, New Jersey’s Robert Menendez and Gary Peters of Michigan wrote the letter, asking the company if it will commit to removing content containing false or misleading information. 

The letter outlines the risk of misinformation ahead of a Jan. 5th Georgia runoff races for Senate, which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, adding Youtube must “take responsibility” and “immediately stop the spread of misinformation.”

“We write to express our deep concern regarding the proliferation of misinformation on your platform during and immediately following the 2020 elections and in light of the upcoming Georgia run-off elections,” the letter says. “We urge you to immediately remove all election outcome misinformation and take aggressive steps to implement prohibitions, as other social media companies have done, regarding outcomes in future elections.”

While the letter may not result in any material action, it comes as Google-owned YouTube has escaped the bulk of criticism surrounding misinformation relative to social media platforms Twitter and Facebook.

However, in recent weeks, YouTube has faced backlash and national attention after hosting videos that make unsubstantiated claims that Donald Trump won and that Democrats are committing voter fraud against Republican ballots, despite the company admitting itself the videos are “demonstrably false” and “undermines confidence in elections.” 

The company’s answer has been to remove advertising and demote the videos in rankings, but it has failed to enforced it consistently, resulting in videos with misinformation going viral across the internet.

In response to the letter from the Senate Democrats, a YouTube spokesperson said the most popular election videos on the site come from “authoritative news organizations.” The spokesperson also said it removes videos that violate its policies. But the spokesperson also said the company allows videos that discuss the outcome of the election and the vote-counting process.

“Like other companies, we allow discussions of this election’s results and the process of counting votes, and are continuing to closely monitor new developments,” the YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

In their letter, the senators gave an example of a YouTube video claiming evidence of voter fraud in Michigan that was viewed more than 5 million views, despite any evidence of such fraud.

“These videos seek to undermine our democracy and cast doubt on the legitimacy of President-elect Biden’s incoming administration,” the letter stated. “Moreover, because the current president has not committed to a peaceful transition of power, misinformation and manipulated media content on your platform may fuel civil unrest.”

The letter continues, asking YouTube what steps it’s taking to make sure the platform doesn’t suppress votes, incite violence or make false claims about ballots. It also asks YouTube for data on videos spreading misinformation as well as to quantify the revenue it has received from hosting election result misinformation.

The senators asked for a response to questions by Dec. 8. 


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Amazon and U.S. government agency partner to inspect counterfeits

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An Amazon fulfillment center in Frankenthal, Germany.

Thorsten Wagner | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon is joining forces with a U.S. government watchdog group to conduct counterfeit inspections, the company announced Tuesday, in its latest effort to address a problem that’s plagued the e-commerce platform for years.

The company will work with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a task force that’s overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to “analyze data and conduct targeted inspections aimed at preventing counterfeit products from entering the U.S. supply chain,” Amazon said. Any evidence collected from their inspections will be used to expand ongoing investigations and go after bad actors.

The initiative, referred to as “Operation Fulfilled Action,” is led by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. The team was launched earlier this year and is made up of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts who mine the site for information and work with federal prosecutors.

Amazon’s marketplace, launched in 2000, now accounts for more than half the company’s overall sales. While it’s been a key driver of Amazon’s overall business, it has also faced a number of issues related to counterfeits, as well as unsafe and expired goods. Knockoff goods have been especially harmful for Amazon’s relationships with some brands, such as Nike and Birkenstock, who quit Amazon following a surge in counterfeits.

The company has ramped up its efforts to stamp out counterfeits on the platform. It has pursued counterfeiters in court, rolled out various programs to seek and detect sales of counterfeit goods and continues to block millions of suspected bad actor accounts and listings.


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