Update: Now five leaders have left the manufacturing initiative in the wake of President Trump's comments on the violence in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend. Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, announced his resignation from the council not long after Trump's tweet saying he has "many" CEOs to take their places. And Tuesday night, after Trump defended his original comments on Charlottesville, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also left the council.
Trumka is the first to explicitly call out Trump's statements in his resignation. His group's statement: "President Trump's remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America's working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups."
According to Business Insider, many CEOs still plan to remain on the council, though not all returned comment.
- Three prominent CEOs have left the group of business leader advisors behind the White House's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, Bloomberg reports.
- Ken Frazier of Merck and Co.; Kevin Plank, of Under Armour, Inc.; and Brian Krzanich, of Intel Corporation resigned from the initiative in the past 48 hours. Neither of the CEOs cited President Donald Trump personally following their decision, Axios said, but observers have speculated that the cause may be the president's comments following the preceding weekend's events in Charlottesville, VA.
- Trump originally announced his Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January, calling it a plan to revitalize the industry and bring back factory jobs. As part of that initiative, the president has met with a committee of prominent U.S. business leaders with the goal of gaining insight on job growth and re-employing U.S. workers.
The jobs initiative is considered an important step in Trump's campaign promise to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing industry. But attrition from business leaders is a setback on multiple fronts. Not only is it a drain on the brain trust — it's a sign that corporate America may be recoiling from the politics surrounding this administration.
Manufacturing once provided well-paying blue-collar jobs for many U.S. workers. Over time, these jobs decreased through down-sizing and plant closings. And while some automotive jobs returned under the Obama administration after the 2007 economic crisis, the industry sector is now at a crossroads, struggling with talent shortages and with managing the impacts of automation.
In return, the Trump DOL has largely focused on apprenticeships and other training programs to push people toward open jobs and ease the skills gap. In June, Trump signed an executive order to redirect $100 million of federal job training funds to apprenticeships. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has also pushed to reduce the number of certifications needed for certain jobs in an effort to open up more opportunities for those out of work, but few details have been released on how exactly that will look.
Social media outrage may play a part in executives' decision to disassociate with Trump, but it's far from the only crowd that can force them to jump ship. IBM employees were vocally upset with IBM CEO Ginny Rometty following the publication of her open letter asking Trump to cooperate on the development of "new collar" jobs.