Monthly Archives: December 2016

There’s some really good news for low-wage workers this weekend

By Max Ehrenfreund

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15:  Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one  of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Demonstrators in front of a McDonald’s restaurant call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015, in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It has been a difficult year for the left politically, but at least with respect to the minimum wage, progressive activists had major victories — including in a couple of very red states.

As a result, the minimum wage will increase in 19 states as 2016 comes to a close, according to figures compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two more states and the District of Columbia will raise the minimum later in the new year.


The greatest increase will apply to companies in New York City with at least 10 employees. Minimum-wage workers at these businesses will receive a raise of $2 an hour on Saturday as the floor increases from $9 to $11. More-modest increases will apply to smaller firms in New York City and companies elsewhere in the state.

Workers also will receive substantial raises in states carried by President-elect Donald Trump. In Arizona, the hourly minimum will increase from $8.05 to $10. The floor will increase from $7.50 to $9 in Maine, from $8.50 to $8.90 in Michigan and from $8 to $8.50 in Arkansas.

[Why raising the minimum wage in Seattle did little to help workers, according to a new study]

Those increases follow a series of convincing wins for labor on the issue in Republican territory. Polling by the Public Religion Research Institute last year found that 3 in 5 Republicans and nearly 3 in 4 independent voters would support increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

In 2014, for instance, voters approved increases in Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota. In Arizona in November, voters approved an initiative …read more


The public is being kept in the dark about Trump’s deal with Carrier

By Danielle Paquette

President-elect Donald Trump talks with workers during a visit to the Carrier factory, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Ind. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President-elect Donald Trump talks with workers during a visit to the Carrier factory in Indianapolis. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

A month after President-elect Donald Trump announced a deal with air conditioning company Carrier to save hundreds of U.S. factory jobs that were slated for Mexico, officials say the agreement has yet to be finalized, and they have released few details about its terms.

The state of Indiana, where the affected jobs are located, agreed to give Carrier up to $7 million in tax credits over 10 years to keep the facility open. Trump and Mike Pence — Indiana’s Republican governor and the vice president-elect — have touted the deal as a victory for their incoming administration and an example of how they’ll jump-start the economy.

However, specifics have been elusive. Trump and the leader of the union that represents the Carrier workers have clashed over the number of jobs saved. It is also unclear whether the company received any federal concessions.

In response to an open-records request from The Washington Post, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, a state agency chaired by Pence, said Indiana law allows it to withhold information until a contract is finalized. They’ve taken this route “to enable effective negotiations on behalf of Hoosiers,” wrote Chris Cotterill, the IEDC’s general counsel, saying it will take up to three months to finish terms of the pact.

Cotterill said the state will eventually publish the terms, but they would not give The Post any record of Trump’s involvement in the deal.

Jonathan Bruno, a legal scholar at Harvard University, said the law does not stop the state from providing such records before a final deal, but it does give the option.

“It’s hard to defend the continued secrecy of the deal,” Bruno wrote in an email. “Pence et al. are trying to have it both ways — …read more


Those jobs Trump is bragging about are just a fraction of Sprint’s huge layoffs

By Max Ehrenfreund

Sprint has announced plans to expand its U.S. labor force. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Sprint has announced plans to expand its U.S. labor force. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure boasted Thursday about his company’s plans to expand employment in the United States, part of a broader investment by the telecom company’s Japanese controlling owner for which President-elect Donald Trump has taken the credit.

Sprint’s domestic expansion comes after several difficult years for the company and its workers. Since 2013, Sprint — a publicly traded company, majority-owned by Tokyo-based SoftBank — has reduced its U.S. labor force by roughly 21 percent. The new employment will only partially make up for those lost jobs.

Representatives of Sprint have said the company will create positions for about 5,000 more people in the United States, counting both new employees and workers at Sprint’s contractors.

“The 5,000 jobs are NEW jobs that Sprint is creating or bringing back to the U.S.,” Claure wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “Great news for the country.”

The company has reduced its headcount by about 8,000 since December 2013 and now employs about 30,000. The bulk of the company’s labor force works in retail sales and customer service.

As the company let personnel go, Sprint outsourced some of the work to contractors with call centers overseas, explained spokesman David Tovar. Some of the 5,000 new U.S. workers also will work for contractors, but at domestic facilities, he said.

For several years, Sprint’s business has yielded disappointing results, as profits have been burdened by declining subscriptions to its cellular services. The most recent series of reductions at the company, headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., began in 2014, when the company put Claure in charge of turning things around.

Claure immediately began planning reductions in the staff. The company had “an extensive list of nice-to-haves and those are the first that are going to …read more


Donald Trump keeps moving the goal post for economic growth

By Ylan Q. Mui

FILE - In this March 19, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Fountain Hills, Ariz. Donald Trump promises to “Make America Great Again.” George Wallace said he would “Stand up for America.” The 2016 Republican presidential front-runner doesn't say he's following the 1960s playbook of the Alabama segregationist, a four-time presidential hopeful.(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Donald Trump at a March campaign rally in Fountain Hills, Ariz. (Matt York/AP)

How great will America be under President Donald Trump? It depends on when you ask.

During the election, Trump pledged that he would oversee a rate of “tremendous” economic expansion as high as 6 percent. But he has moved the goal post several times since then, dialing back expectations.

Over the past eight years, growth in the nation’s economic output has hovered about 2 percent, well below the historical average. Trump has frequently pointed to the slow recovery from the Great Recession as a shortcoming of President Obama’s policies.

Since the election, many economists have upgraded their projections of economic growth over the next two years. They are betting that Trump’s pledge to cut taxes will put more money in people’s pockets and encourage businesses to invest, while his support for infrastructure spending will create jobs and boost productivity in the long run.

[Larry Summers: The global economy has entered dangerous, uncharted territory]

Still, many economists say that there are fundamental reasons that the economy can’t grow much faster than it is now. For example, the baby-boom generation is retiring, resulting in a smaller workforce, and technological investments may not be creating the same numbers of jobs as in the past. In addition, they warn that some of Trump’s proposals — such as steep tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports — could backfire and potentially throw the economy into another recession.

Here’s a look at how Trump’s promise of economic growth has shifted:

September 2015
Trump released the initial version of his plan to overhaul the nation’s tax code, during a news conference at Trump Tower in New York. His proposal slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and collapsed individual tax …read more