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Rockport Group donating sneakers, walking shoes to first responders


Rockport Group donating sneakers, walking shoes to first responders

Rockport Group is launching an initiative to support first responders on the front lines of the pandemic. Among the first steps for “Responders in Motion”: The Newton footwear company donated 5,000 pairs of sneakers and walking shoes, valued at more than $500,000, to first responders through the Massachusetts Ambulance Association. Pacific Logistics Corp., Rockport’s freight-shipping provider, helped transport the shoes to the ambulance association’s distribution center in Malden. In addition, through May 1, Rockport donated 5 percent of all sales on Rockport.com to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians Foundation. — JON CHESTO

Clarification: This item has been changed to reflect that the Rockport Group donation of 5 percent of sales ended on May 1.



Whipple to lead craft brewer Lord Hobo

The Woburn craft brewer Lord Hobo has promoted chief operating officer Nathan Whipple to president, and he will take over management of all functions from chief executive Daniel Lanigan. Whipple joined Lord Hobo as COO in 2014 and added the role of interim chief financial officer in 2015. Lanigan said he wants to focus on strategic business development initiatives, such as the satellite location it is building at 2 Dry Dock Ave. in Boston’s Seaport, as well as other expansion efforts. — JON CHESTO


An Amazon vice president quit over firings of employees who protested

A prominent engineer and vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing arm said Monday that he had quit “in dismay” over the firing of workers who raised questions about workplace safety during the pandemic. Tim Bray, who had been a vice president of Amazon Web Services, in a blog post criticized a number of recent firings, including of an employee in a New York City warehouse, Christian Smalls, who led a protest in March calling for the company to provide workers with more protection. His firing has drawn the scrutiny of New York’s attorney general. Bray also cited the firing last month of Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, who circulated a petition that called on Amazon to expand sick leave, hazard pay, and child care for warehouse workers. They had also helped organize a virtual event for warehouse employees to speak to tech workers at the company about workplace conditions. Bray called the fired workers whistle-blowers and said firing them was “evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.” Amazon declined to comment. It previously said it fired Smalls because he had violated policies by leaving a quarantine to protest. Amazon told Costa and Cunningham they had violated a policy that forbids Amazon workers from asking co-workers to donate to causes or sign petitions. The company has rolled out various safety measures, such as temperature checks and mandatory masks. — NEW YORK TIMES



Lack out as NBC News chairman

NBC Universal announced Monday that Andrew Lack, the NBC News chairman since 2015, would leave the company by the end of the month. The announcement brings to a close Lack’s tumultuous tenure at the helm of NBC News, during which he oversaw a turnaround in marquee properties like the cable channel MSNBC while grappling with a cascading series of controversies, including the toppling of star anchor Matt Lauer in a sexual harassment scandal and questions over the network’s coverage of Harvey Weinstein. Cesar Conde, the chairman of Telemundo, will replace Lack as the chairman of the NBC Universal News Group. He will have oversight of NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC. Conde, a young executive in the NBCUniversal family, has impressed NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Shell with his stewardship of Telemundo, the Spanish-language network that has made strides under his leadership in catching up with its chief rival, Univision. The company said that NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and MSNBC president Phil Griffin will both report to Conde. Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC anchor, was among those at the news division who were publicly critical of Lack and the NBC News leadership team during his time at the network. — NEW YORK TIMES



Frontier Airlines helps passengers keep their distance for $39

Frontier Airlines will charge extra for passengers who want to guarantee a spot next to an unoccupied middle seat in the age of social distancing. The carrier aims to generate revenue on the empty seats, charging $39 to $89, depending on the route. It will have 18 “More Room” assignments available on each flight from Friday through Aug. 31, spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said. A face-covering mandate will also take effect Friday, along with a “health requirement” customers must accept before they can check in: Travelers must check their temperature, attest that neither they nor anyone in their household has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days, and wash their hands or use sanitizer before boarding. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Johnson & Johnson settles West Virginia pelvic mesh lawsuit

West Virginia has reached a $3.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit over the marketing of a surgical mesh used to treat pelvic conditions in women, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. He sued in September, saying the company misrepresented the implant’s risks and effectiveness. The US Food and Drug Administration stopped sales of the synthetic mesh in April 2019 after years of injury reports and tens of thousands of lawsuits by women who said they had bleeding, severe pain, and infection from the products, also called transvaginal mesh. Several major manufacturers, including J&J, had previously stopped making the implants. The suit in West Virginia accused J&J of sending out misleading information, sometimes using studies written by paid consultants. The settlement also resolved allegations against Johnson & Johnson that deceptive marketing was used involving metal-on-metal hip replacement systems. The settlement involves no admission of liability or misconduct. In January, a judge in San Diego ordered J&J to pay nearly $344 million in penalties over the marketing of the pelvic mesh devices. The company in October also agreed to a $117 million settlement involving similar allegations with 41 others states and the District of Columbia. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Massachusetts gas prices remain unchanged

Massachusetts gas prices have flattened out and remained steady in the past week after several weeks of steeps drops, AAA Northeast said Monday. The average price of a gallon of self-serve, regular remains unchanged at $1.90. Even though that is 94 cents lower than the in-state average a year ago, it’s still 12 cents higher than the current national average. Prices could start to rise again as the economy gets going after the coronavirus pandemic. “As some states begin to reopen businesses, those states will likely see demand increase and pump prices will likely follow suit,” AAA spokeswoman Mary Maguire said. AAA found a wide range of prices in Massachusetts, from a low of $1.44 to a high of $2.39. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Meatpackers cautiously reopen plants amid coronavirus fears

A South Dakota pork processing plant took its first steps toward reopening Monday after being shuttered for over two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak that infected more than 800 employees. Employees at Smithfield Foods’ ground pork department filed through a tent where they were screened for fever and other signs of COVID-19. Some said they felt such measures would protect them; others were not confident infections could be halted in a crowded plant. Following an order from President Trump that meat plants remain open, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods was also resuming “limited production” Monday at its pork plant in Logansport, Ind., where nearly 900 employees tested positive. And the JBS pork plant in Worthington, Minn., planned a partial reopening on Wednesday. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Monday called meatpacking plants — along with nursing homes — “the most dangerous places there are right now.’’ He called for greater protections for meatpackers and a $13-an-hour pay premium. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on Friday said more than 4,900 workers at meat and poultry facilities have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including 20 who died. Not all states provided data. — ASSOCIATED PRESS