Alina Selyukh

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.

Before joining NPR in October 2015, Selyukh spent five years at Reuters, where she covered tech, telecom and cybersecurity policy, campaign finance during the 2012 election cycle, health care policy and the Food and Drug Administration, and a bit of financial markets and IPOs.

Selyukh began her career in journalism at age 13, freelancing for a local television station and several newspapers in her home town of Samara in Russia. She has since reported for CNN in Moscow, ABC News in Nebraska, and NationalJournal.com in Washington, D.C. At her alma mater, Selyukh also helped in the production of a documentary for NET Television, Nebraska's PBS station.

She received a bachelor's degree in broadcasting, news-editorial and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

At a time when millions of Americans are losing jobs at restaurants, hotels and airlines because of the coronavirus pandemic, a few large companies are on a hiring spree.

That's because despite mass shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine. And that means a new hiring push at supermarkets such as Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, convenience and discount stores like Dollar General and 7-Eleven, and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

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Many industries are furloughing or firing workers, but some are hiring. NPR's Alina Selyukh has the story.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Despite all the shutdowns and lockdowns, Americans still need food and medicine, and that means some companies are actually hiring, at least temporarily - supermarkets like Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.

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Special hours for seniors to shop are just one of the ways grocery stores across the U.S. are adjusting their operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Supermarkets are restricting their opening hours to give workers time for cleaning and restocking. They're also limiting how many items people are allowed to buy. And they're adding special designated hours when only seniors and others most vulnerable to the coronavirus are invited to shop.

When Kary Wayson walked through empty Seattle streets last week, she didn't realize she was heading to her last shift at work.

"It seemed like all of a sudden Seattle itself took a nosedive," she says.

Her city had become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Parking lots, typically jammed, were deserted. Shop fronts had handwritten "Closed" signs on their windows.

The restaurant where Wayson had been a waitress for almost 16 years tried limiting the menu and cutting back hours.

Amazon says it plans to hire 100,000 new workers for warehouses and delivery service in the U.S. as more people turn to online shopping for supplies as they're isolated at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Shelly Hughes says three things are required to do her job: a strong back, a strong stomach and a big heart.

She's a certified nurse's aide at a nursing home in Washington state, which also means another requirement: To get her work done, she has to physically be there.

"You're helping residents that may not be able to dress themselves, feed themselves, toilet themselves," Hughes says. "The great stuff is that you get to know wonderful people. I have so many grandmas and grandpas now, let me tell you."

Kim Thomas felt drawn to being a home health aide after caring for her own ailing mother. Human dignity, she says, can be simple, like a bath and a favorite snack.

When Thomas first started visiting homes to care for patients, she made $7 an hour. That was in North Carolina about 16 years ago. Her pay inched up over time, to $10.50. To try to make ends meet, she sometimes would work through the night, dozing in patients' homes.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

Amazon wants President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to testify about a massive military tech contract that the company lost to Microsoft, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Amazon has taken the Pentagon to court, alleging "unmistakable bias" on the government's part in awarding to rival Microsoft the $10 billion cloud-computing contract, known as JEDI.

Kubilay Kahveci's flight was supposed to be in the air for more than six hours — an overnight voyage from New York City to London. But British Airways Flight 112 made the trek in under five hours, setting a new record for the fastest subsonic commercial flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

After almost 10 minutes of standing in line at a coffee shop, Ritchie Torres realized he only had cash in his pocket — a form of payment no longer accepted by this store.

"It was a humiliating experience," he said. "I remember wondering aloud, how could a business refuse to accept cash, which is legal tender?"

There's no free lunch, economists will say. So when a company says, sleep on a mattress for a few months and return it for free — that actually costs money.

Just how much?

That question is now in the spotlight as online mattress seller Casper plans to go public. The decision forced Casper to disclose eye-popping losses: more than $92 million in 2018.

Georgie Williamson's first scrunchie moment came the day she was born. In 1989 her mother was in labor, wearing a black velvet scrunchie with a bow. And the daughter grew up a believer — "a scrunchie gal," as she puts it.

McDonald's should not be held responsible for the labor practices of its franchisees, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Thursday.

Black Friday isn't what it used to be. Just ask Chris Ott.

He married into a family that never missed the occasion. And let's just say, he really got into it.

After Thanksgiving dinner, they'd peruse Black Friday ads, developing a "really fun strategic plan — pick the store that we were going to wait outside of, we would divide and conquer," says Ott, 42, a cybersecurity engineer and youth pastor in the Denver area.

McDonald's has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a years-long legal battle with California cooks and cashiers who have accused the company of failing to properly pay them for their work and expenses.

The class-action lawsuit, representing tens of thousands of McDonald's workers, accused the fast-food chain of structuring shifts in a way that denied workers overtime pay. The lawsuit also said the company denied workers timely breaks, which were allowed only at the start and end of a shift instead of the middle when the restaurant got busy.

Working for Instacart — buying and delivering groceries to strangers — at first felt like Michaellita Fortier's childhood dream of starring on the speed-shopping TV show Supermarket Sweep.

"It was fun in the beginning," Fortier says. She felt like she was helping people in need while making as much as $16 or $20 per delivery.

But then the app inundated her with orders worth half that, $7 or $9 per delivery. For that money, she was expected to go to the store, shop, fill a cart and deliver an order, sometimes driving 10 or 15 miles.

Updated at 10:43 a.m. ET

A group of McDonald's cooks and cashiers is suing the fast-food chain over the company's handling of what the lawsuit presents as a "nationwide pattern" of customers attacking and harassing workers.

A former McDonald's employee says a male co-worker at a Michigan restaurant routinely grabbed her breasts and buttocks and propositioned her for sex — allegations laid out in a new class-action lawsuit that accuses McDonald's of a "culture of sexual harassment."

Former McDonald's CEO Stephen Easterbrook is getting an exit package of almost $42 million after his relationship with an employee was found to violate company policy. The size of his compensation puts a new focus on the widening gap between the pay at the top and the bottom of the corporate ladder.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Turns out tourists are not visiting America like they used to, especially those from China. NPR's Alina Selyukh explores why.

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