- After a cascade of CEOs resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, President Trump announced in a tweet that he was ending both it and the Strategy and Policy Forum completely. Minutes prior to that tweet, the Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory group of business leaders, revealed separately that they were disbanding on their own accord — but they were scooped by Trump's tweet.
- The trouble began after Trump's comments regarding the violence in Charlottesville, VA. Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., was the first to announce his resignation from the initiative, stating that American leadership needs to reject "expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy."
- By Wednesday afternoon, at least six other CEOs had announced their decision to step away from the initiative after Trump doubled down on his Saturday comments, leading to the eventual dissolution of both groups.
Trump essentially ran on a promise of bringing back fading manufacturing jobs — which some experts considered an oversimplification of a complex, multi-faceted issue. The ever-growing workforce skills gap is particularly prominent in manufacturing industries, especially as digitization and automation continue to expand. And the "image gap," or an unwillingness by young people to enter a career in manufacturing due to a misunderstanding of the work, exacerbates the problem.
The council would likely never have played a role in directly shaping policy, but the bluster doesn't look good considering the trouble Trump has had so far in moving his agenda in Congress. Healthcare and tax reform, keystones for his economic policy, have so far either failed to advance or gone largely untouched.
But despite the grandstanding, there's no love lost quite yet between Trump's administration and big business. Trump and his executive branch have so far nominated business-friendly members for the EEOC and NLRB, rescinded or delayed a number of Obama-era rules (including the fiduciary rule), had the DOJ switch sides in the arbitration case now waiting at SCOTUS and ended the DOL's defense of the overtime rule.
The Trump administration has not fully implemented its agenda, however, due to vacant key leadership roles at several agencies and sub-agencies, including a wage-hour administrator at DOL. But the administration continues to advance efforts to institute apprenticeship programs, decrease licensing required for some positions and further prop up talent pipelines for struggling industries.