March 31, 2020

Communicating the Growing Pinch on Personnel

More businesses are preparing for the agonizing inevitability of job cuts or other personnel-related cost-cutting measures as they work to stay afloat amid the coronavirus outbreak. Hotels and airlines represented the first wave of such actions, but we’re seeing more of these announcements by the day, increasing this week over last in areas like retail, entertainment, media, manufacturing and other sectors. Many companies are pairing job or pay cuts with a management giveback like a CEO not taking a salary. For most of these companies, CEO salaries are a small slice of the company’s overall revenue, but the leadership’s willingness to share in the pain of the employee base can be seen as an important message of sacrificing together. Other trends we see in communicating these measures are to line up support from their union or influential employees in advance and for companies to rely solely on internal memos to share the news with the media without further comment.

Infrastructure Could Unite on Phase Four Coronavirus Legislation

Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill continue to discuss what a phase four recovery package may look like when Congress returns to Washington. While the conversations are still preliminary – and leadership on both sides of the aisle seem to have different priorities in terms of timing and substance – investments in infrastructure may be emerging as a consensus point. Speaker Pelosi has previously mentioned the idea and today President Trump tweeted his interest in a massive $2 trillion package of infrastructure programs, noting the low interest rates.

CEOs Navigate Frequent White House Appearances

Corporate CEOs are becoming among the most frequent guests of the White House as President Trump has been eager to highlight corporate contributions to the coronavirus response – and showcase successes in his administration’s efforts to fight the pandemic. The Washington Post reported Tuesday how the executives who are appearing with Trump navigate the tightrope of these appearances, “sometimes slipping in a few plugs for the home office and, often, praising Trump.” The companies he’s summoned – for a steady drumbeat of White House meetings over the last several weeks – come from industries ranging from insurance to banking, from manufacturing to retail, and from travel to shipping. We would expect these meetings to continue.

Growing Paid Leave Protests

COVID-19 is generating growing calls for paid leave – and employee protests calling out employers that don’t provide it. The New York Times featured a powerful video op-ed by a McDonald’s worker who says she goes to her $11.50 an hour job preparing people’s food even when she’s vomiting because the lost wages could lead to losing the roof over her head. GPG research conducted last week found paid leave is the top action American voters want to see businesses take in response to the crisis. A GPG analysis of the Twitter conversation around coronavirus and paid leave shows users voicing support for Amazon, Whole Foods and Instacart workers protesting their company’s policies, with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren among the top voices.