By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (1/12/18)
In November of 2016, then-President-elect Donald Trump touted a deal he negotiated with an Indianapolis Carrier plant that he claimed would keep jobs from moving to Mexico. On Thursday, that very same Carrier plant, as expected, laid off more than 200 workers—a move critics highlighted as further proof Trump’s deal with the company was a “con” all along.
Responding to the layoffs, Carrier workers who voted for Trump expressed regret that they ever believed he would follow through on his promises.
“Financially, I thought he’s a genius. I said, ‘Well, America’s in debt; maybe he can do something and turn the economy around.’ Obviously, it’s not looking that way. Mr. Trump didn’t do his research and made himself look silly in front of the nation when these layoffs and early retirements began,” Duane Oreskovic, a Trump voter who lost his job Thursday, told the New Yorker.
In retrospect, Oreskovic concluded that he wishes he voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“I would have voted for him if I could do it again,” he said.
“He’s a pure and simple con man…and I’m sorry people bought into his message.”
As Reuters reports, 1,000 workers will remain at the factory—in positions that were “never slated to move”—while the other “jobs are going to the company’s plant in Monterrey, Mexico, where workers make about $3 an hour.” Carrier, however, will continue to benefit from the $7 million in state tax breaks it was rewarded for keeping its factory in Indiana.
Bag of shit
Speaking at an Indianapolis town hall meeting on Wednesday ahead of the layoffs, Chuck Jones, former president of United Steelworkers 1999, slammed Trump for selling workers false hope.
“I think everybody ought to respect the president of the United States and the office he holds,” Jones told an audience of workers, many of whom voted for the president in the 2016 election. “But Donald Trump is a liar and an idiot.”
Jones immediately criticized Trump after his initial deal with Carrier was announced, calling out the president for inflating the number of jobs he personally “saved.” Now retired, Jones is still on the attack, despite receiving death threats after Trump attacked him on Twitter in December.
“When he was saying these jobs would not be leaving this country, not at any point in time did he say, ‘I’m bringing back my jobs I’ve got outside the country. I’m going to bring back my daughter’s jobs,'” Jones added. “He’s a pure and simple con man, he’s a rich elite, and I’m sorry people bought into his message. He sold us a bag of shit, and now we’re stuck with it. What a godawful mess he is.”
Carrier’s latest batch of layoffs come after more than 300 workers at the company’s Indianapolis factory in July—the six-month anniversary of Trump’s presidency.
They also come after Trump and high-ranking members of his cabinet touted Walmart’s announcement that it is raising the company-wide minimum wage to $11 an hour. The Trump administration refused to address the fact that, on the same day, Walmart laid off thousands of employees, in some cases without notifying them.
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(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Walmart Pulls ‘Diabolical’ And ‘Devious Two-Step’ By Pairing Wage Hikes With Mass Layoffs
By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (1/11/18)
Walmart, America’s largest private employer, announced to much fanfare on Thursday that it is raising the company-wide minimum wage from $10 to $11—a move eagerly touted by President Donald Trump. However, Walmart didn’t loudly announce that it was, at the same time, moving to shut down more than 60 Sam’s Club stores nationwide and lay off thousands of workers.
Sam’s Club is a wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart, and it is named after Walmart founder Sam Walton. According to Business Insider, many of the company’s employees didn’t know they had lost their jobs until they showed up for work Thursday morning.
Following news of the mass layoffs and store closures, ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum argued the timing of Walmart’s wage announcement “was almost certainly not an accident.”
In addition to inflating the generosity of the new bonuses, Walmart appears to have launched its wage hike press blitz “to cover for thousands of unannounced layoffs,” Legum writes.
“Walmart gave out what amounts to about two percent of the value of their tax cut over 10 years in bonuses. Got praise from the president. Meanwhile, it was abruptly shutting stores across the country. It’s diabolical.”
“It would look very bad to announce dozens of store closures and thousands of layoffs right after receiving a massive corporate tax cut,” he notes, referencing the $1.5 trillion tax plan Trump signed into law last month. “So instead, Walmart gave out what amounts to about two percent of the value of their tax cut over 10 years in bonuses. Made a big deal about it. Got praise from the president. Meanwhile, it was abruptly shutting stores across the country. It’s diabolical.”
“Walmart is pulling off an extremely devious two-step,” concluded George Zornick, Washington editor of The Nation.
During a press briefing on Thursday, both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were asked to comment on the mass layoffs—and on the administration’s attempt to take credit for the wage increases, but not the dozens of store closures.
“I don’t have any comment on that specific component,” Sanders said of the thousands of Sam’s Club workers who are losing their jobs.
Asked to explain why Trump’s policies are responsible for the wage hikes but not the shuttering stores, Mnuchin explained that “different companies will do different things. Some companies will invest capital, some companies will return money to workers. Lots of things are going on in the economy and we appreciate what Walmart’s doing.”
Mnuchin quickly moved on to the next question.
Watch: [Link to video below. Ed.]
Walmart is just the latest major corporation to carry out a massive PR campaign claiming that the GOP tax law is the driving force behind new wage increases and investments—while also firing thousands of workers.
In a statement on Thursday, Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, concluded that Walmart’s portrayal of its wage increase as a product of the Republican tax plan is “politics at its most cynical.”
“Companies were already raising wages even before the tax cut passed in response to a tight labor market, grassroots pressure from groups like the Fight for $15, and the rush of minimum wage hikes from California to New York,” Pearl said. “Take it from those of us on the inside: these companies aren’t raising pay because they want to. They’re doing it because working people stood up and demanded more.”
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