GM to slash 14,700 jobs in North America

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General Motors
By TOM KRISHER and ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writers

General Motors will lay off 14,700 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.
The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won’t be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. They will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.
Plants without products include assembly plants in Detroit; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario. Also affected are transmission factories in Warren, Michigan, as well as Baltimore.
About 6,000 factory workers could lose jobs in the U.S. and Canada, although some could transfer to truck plants.
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General Motors is closing a Canadian plant at the cost of about 2,500 jobs, but that is apparently just a piece of a much broader, company-wide restructuring that will be announced as early as Monday.

A person briefed on the matter told The Associated Press that the plant being shuttered in Canada is just the beginning as GM prepares for the next economic downturn, shifting trade agreements under the Trump administration, and potential tariffs on imported automobiles.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement hasn’t been made public.
In the fall, the Detroit automaker offered buyouts to 18,000 white collar workers, but it has yet to say how many accepted, or if it’s close to meeting the staff reduction goals it set to better withstand leaner times.
The Monday closure of GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ontario, was confirmed late Sunday by an official familiar with the decision. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly ahead of the announcement.
GM needs to reshape the company as it shifts its focus to lower emitting hybrid vehicles, technology that is not at the forefront at the Canadian plant.
Too many GM factories are devoted to making slow-selling cars and the company can no longer afford to keep them all operating without making some tough decisions. But the political atmosphere might limit realistic choices for the Detroit automaker.

Industry analysts are already plotting out possible targets for GM, including its sprawling Lordstown plant in northeastern Ohio. The car produced there is also is built in Mexico. The once-bustling factory already has lost two of its three shifts and 3,000 union jobs since the beginning of last year.
But moving that car, the Chevrolet Cruze, south of the border brings the risk of provoking a backlash from President Donald Trump. And GM also isn’t sure whether he’ll make good on threats to impose 25 percent tariffs on vehicles imported from Canada and Mexico.
What’s more, the Cruze plant just outside Youngtown is in a Democratic and labor stronghold, where Trump won over a surprising number of voters two years ago by reaching out to what he called America’s “forgotten men and women.”
At a rally near the plant last summer, Trump talked about passing by big factories whose jobs “have left Ohio,” then told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are “coming back. They’re all coming back.”
Altogether, GM has five car factories with plenty of unused capacity in Kansas City, Kansas; Lordstown; and Detroit-Hamtramck, Lansing, and Orion Township, Michigan.

GM opened its factory in Oshawa, near Toronto, in 1953. The plant is used to make the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans as well as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
A GM spokesman declined to comment. GM had been expected to close plants because of struggling sales.
Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, said in a prepared statement that it does not have complete details of Monday’s announcement, but it has been informed that there is no product allocated to the Oshawa plant past December 2019.
“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the union said in a statement on its website.
“Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors (Monday) and will provide further comment following the meeting.”
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said he had not spoken to anyone from GM. Jennifer French, who represents Oshawa in the provincial legislature, said she finds the news “gravely concerning.”
“If GM Canada is indeed turning its back on 100 years of industry and community — abandoning workers and families in Oshawa — then this is a callous decision that must be fought,” she said in a statement.

By TOM KRISHER and ROB GILLIES/Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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The Myth of Job Creation

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This is an old article but a relevant one.

The headlines from the last presidential debate focused on President Obama challenging Mitt Romney on issue after issue. There was a less noticed, but no less remarkable, moment when Mr. Obama agreed with Mr. Romney on something — and both were entirely wrong.

The exchange began with a question about the offshoring of American jobs. Part of Mr. Obama’s answer was that federal investments in education, science and research would help to ensure that companies invest and hire in the United States. Mr. Romney interrupted. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Government does not create jobs.”

It was a decidedly crabbed response to a seemingly uncontroversial observation, and yet Mr. Obama took the bait. He said his political opponents had long harped on “this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer. That’s not what I believe.” He went on to praise free enterprise and to say that government’s role is to create the conditions for everyone to have a fair shot at success.

So, they agree. Government does not create jobs.

Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan).

First, the basics. At last count, government at all levels — federal, state and local — employed 22 million Americans, with the largest segment working in public education. Is that too many? No. Since the late 1980s, the number of public-sector workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people. With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009, that ratio now stands at about 7 per 100.

Public-sector job loss means trouble for everyone. Government jobs are crucial to education, public health and safety, environmental protection, defense, homeland security and myriad other functions that the private sector cannot fulfill. They are also critical for private-sector job growth in two fundamental ways. First, the government gets its supplies from private-sector companies, which is why Republican senators like John McCain have been frantically warning about the dire effects on job creation if Congress moves ahead with planned military spending cuts. (Republicans insisted upon the cuts as part of their ill-advised showdown over the debt ceiling.) Second, government spending on supplies and salaries reverberates strongly through the economy, increasing demand and with it, employment.

That means the economy suffers when government cuts back. A report by the Economic Policy Institute examined the effect of recent cutbacks at the state and local level — including direct loss of government jobs and indirect loss of suppliers’ jobs; the jobs that should have been added to keep up with population growth; and the reduction in purchasing power from other cutbacks. If not for state and local budget austerity, the report found, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, half of which would be in the private sector.

The government does not create jobs? It most certainly does. And at this time of state budgetary hardship, a dose of federal fiscal aid to states and localities could create more jobs, in both the public and private sectors.

From NYT Opinion

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The War on Tipping Activists want to “protect” restaurant workers right out of their jobs.

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Union protestors and celebrity advocates have decided that waiters’ tips aren’t big enough.

They are upset that in 43 states, tipped workers can be paid a lower minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour.

Not fair! say celebrities like Jane Fonda, who recorded commercials saying, “That’s barely enough to buy a large cup of coffee!”

As usual, those who want the government to decide that workers must be paid more insist that “women and minorities” are hurt by the market.

But waitress Alcieli Felipe is a minority and a woman. She says the celebrities and politicians should butt out.

Thanks to tips, Felipe says in my new internet video, she makes “$25 an hour. By the end of the year, $48,000 to $50,000.”

She understands that if government raises the minimum, “It’ll be harder for restaurants to keep the same amount of employees… (T)he busboy will be cut.”

She’s right.

Minimum wage laws don’t just raise salaries without cost. If they did, why not set the minimum at $100 an hour?

Every time a minimum is raised, somebody loses something. “In the (San Francisco) Bay Area, you’ve got a 14 percent increase in restaurant closures for each dollar increase in the minimum wage,” says Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policy Institute.

Activists are unmoved. “The problem with tips is that they’re very inconsistent,” University of Buffalo law professor Nicole Hallett told me. Hallett is one of those activist professors who gets students to join her in “social justice” protests.

“I simply don’t believe that increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers will lead to a reduction in the restaurant workforce,” she said. “Studies have shown that restaurants have been able to bear those costs.”

I pointed out that last time New York raised its minimum, the city lost 270 restaurants.

“Restaurants always close,” she replied.

“Restaurants don’t always close,” responds Saltsman. “Yeah, there’s turnover in the industry, but what we’re doing now to an industry where there’s low profit margins, jacking up restaurant closures… Something’s not right.”

The media rarely focus on those closings. We can’t interview people who are never hired; we don’t know who they are. Instead, activists lead reporters to workers who talk about struggling to pay rent.

“Forty-six percent of tipped workers nationwide rely on public benefits” like food stamps, Hallett told me.

I pointed out that many tipped workers are eligible for benefits because they don’t report tip income to the government.

She didn’t dispute that. “Many restaurants and restaurant workers don’t report 100 percent of their income,” she acknowledged.

Hallett and other higher-minimum activists also claim that tipping should be discouraged because it causes sexual harassment. Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda, and 12 other actresses wrote a letter urging New York’s governor to increase the minimum wage, claiming that “relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for ‘service.'”

Tipping causes customers to abuse women?

Saltsman says research using federal data doesn’t support that. “Data shows some of the states that have gone down this path that the activists want, changing their tipping system, actually have a higher rate of sexual harassment.”

When I pointed that out to Hallett, she replied, “Sexual harassment is complicated; no single policy is going to eliminate that problem.”

So raising the minimum won’t reduce sexual harassment but will raise prices, will force some restaurants to either fire workers or close, and will reduce tip income.

This is supposed to help restaurant workers?

Many object to being “helped.” When Maine voters increased the minimum, so many restaurant workers protested that the politicians reversed the decision.

Alcieli Felipe doesn’t want the government “helping” her either: “We are fine. Who are those people? Have they worked in the restaurant industry?”

Most haven’t.

I’m a free market guy. I wonder, “Why should there be any minimum? Why can’t the employer and employee make whatever deal they want?”

“That policy has been rejected,” Hallett told me, “rejected for the last hundred years. We’re not in that world.”

Unfortunately, we aren’t. We live in a world where activists and government “protect” workers right out of their jobs.

By John Stossel/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Man behind Janus case says public unions will have to sell themselves better after Supreme Court ruling

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The Illinois state worker behind a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public workers cannot be forced to pay union dues said Thursday morning that the unions will be forced to do a better job selling themselves.

Man behind Janus case says public unions will have to sell themselves better after Supreme Court ruling

Image: (Carolyn Kaster, AP)

“A lot of these unions have asked for, and received, the ability to inclusively, collectively bargain for everybody,” Mark Janus said during an interview with Albany radio. “Now that this decision has come down, they’re going to have to come out and sell a product, if you will, and they will have to prove to the individuals that there is a definite benefit for being part of the union.”

Janus — who said the decision will save him about $50 a month — said it was more about the issue than the money. He called it “mainly a matter of choice.”

More from NY Daily News

Posted by Libergirl

Louisiana warns 37,000 Medicaid recipients they may face loss of care over budget cuts

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Louisiana lawmakers made deep cuts to the proposed budget to make up for a $650 million shortfall, which could end a temporary tax funding Medicaid benefits. The governor also warned that both of the state’s medical schools might have to close and that several big hospitals may have to lay off staffers.

For Jamie Duplechine, a quadriplegic who has spent more than half of her 38 years in a wheelchair, it’s an endless source of amusement that three of the caregivers who watch her around the clock in her Louisiana apartment just happen to be named Shonda, Shamanda and Sherry.

Image: Shonta Faulk uses a harness to get Jamie Duplechine into bed

Image: NBC News

Karen Scallan is also on a first name basis with the caregivers who come to her suburban New Orleans home to help her take care of her 17-year-old son, who has Down syndrome — and free her up so she can work and take care of her 63-year-old husband, who suffers from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

So when the letter arrived this week warning them that they were at risk of losing their health care services starting on July 1 because of their state’s budget crisis, they reacted the same way — with dread.

“I have staff with me throughout the day and night,” Duplechine, who was paralyzed at age 15 in a car accident, told NBC News. “They do my hygiene, my catheter care, my bowel care. They cook my meals, they bathe me, they drive me everywhere. Without them, I’m in a devastating state.”

 

More sadness at NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

Seattle Passes Tax on Big Firms to Ease Housing Crisis

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amazonshutterstock 373709401

Image: OZY

They’re hitting Amazon close to home. The company, Seattle’s largest employer, had threatened to stop construction on a downtown tower if the city passed a planned $500-per-employee tax. Many point to the rise of huge international companies like Amazon and Starbucks as the cause of Seattle’s rising house prices and increased homelessness. In the end, the city council scaled back: Its new tax costs companies $275 per worker, and the anticipated $48 million a year in funding will go toward building affordable housing and battling homelessness

More@ OZY

Posted by Libergirl

U.S. Job Openings Equal Unemployed for 1st time In 2 Decades

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WASHINGTON (AP) — If you’re looking for a job right now, this may be about as good as it gets: There are roughly as many open jobs in the United States as there are unemployed people.

In March, employers advertised 6.55 million open jobs, the most on records dating to December 2000, the Labor Department said Tuesday . At the same time, there were 6.59 million unemployed people.

That’s a historical anomaly. Typically, there are far more unemployed people than advertised job openings — often twice as many. And back in July 2009, just after the Great Recession, there were 6.7 unemployed people, on average, for each open job. With that ratio now at essentially 1 to 1, the job market appears to be tilting in favor of workers and job-seekers rather than employers.

Still, the sharp jump in openings — they rose nearly 8 percent in March — does raise questions. If employers are so desperate, for instance, why aren’t they raising pay sharply enough to attract and keep employees? Though pay has risen modestly in recent months, the gains remain below historical averages.

Some economists say they still think the spike in open jobs means that employers will have to raise pay faster in coming months.

“Employers beware,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Bank. “Wages have nowhere to go but up; it’s just a matter of time.”

Some data suggests that workers are earning more: One measure of wages and salaries rose in the first three months of the year by the most in 11 years. But a separate measure of average hourly pay increased 2.6 percent in April from a year earlier, even as the unemployment rate reached a 17-year low of 3.9 percent.

The last time the jobless rate fell below 4 percent, average wages were rising at a much healthier 4.5 percent annual rate.

So where are all the job openings? The biggest gains in March were in construction, where openings soared by roughly one-third to 248,000. Job listings also jumped in education, professional services like accounting, retail, hotels and restaurants, and shipping and warehousing.

Nick Bunker, an analyst at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, say she thinks the record-high number of job openings in part stems from weak wage gains.

Typically, as unemployment falls, employers advertise fewer job openings because it tends to cost them more to recruit and pay new employees. But now, with wage gains sluggish, employers may be willing to post jobs because they don’t need to pay so much.

Companies may also now be quicker to post openings online than they would have been to advertise through paid newspaper want ads and other methods that were more typical in the past. Many larger firms use software that scans for keywords to initially screen resumes, which may make it easier and cheaper to post lots of jobs — even those that an employer isn’t yet prepared to fill.

Also, economic research by the Federal Reserve suggests that employers aren’t poaching as many workers who already have jobs as they did in the past, Bunker says. More Americans than in the past are staying in their jobs rather than switching to new ones for higher pay. That’s left more jobs unfilled.

Yet Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, suggests that that could be changing. The number of people quitting their jobs has increased 6.4 percent in the past year. Workers typically quit when they have other jobs lined up, or are confident they can find one.

That is a sign that job-switching might be recovering. Over time, such a trend would likely increase average wages.

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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