From the UAW strike to Trump’s trade war: The Advance’s best economy and labor stories

UAW worker Mark Race dressed as Uncle Sam at GM headquarters, Oct. 14, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Quotable of the Year:

“You know, there are things that we can’t control, like the weather, but there are things we can. And when we see trade changes via tweet, it’s really concerning.” 

— Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on President Donald Trump’s chaotic trade policy

Susan J. Demas graphic

In the last days of 2019, the Advance is running a series of our best stories from a few of the many issues we cover, from the environment to the 2020 election. With more than 2,000 stories to choose from, it was hard to pare the list down.

Here’s our roundup of our top economy and labor stories:

Auto industry

Early in the year, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles announced a $4.5 billion expansion. We looked into the tax incentives for this deal and others.

Are ‘incredibly conservative’ tax incentives worth it for $4.5B Fiat Chrysler deal?

The six-week UAW strike at General Motors dominated headlines around the world, but his especially close to home for thousands of workers in Michigan.

Impact of UAW strike being felt far and wide

After months of details dripping out on the UAW corruption scandal, GM filed a blockbuster suit against FCA. As Advance columnist Rick Haglund has noted, “Bribery requires someone to pay the bribe.”

Rick Haglund: Bombshell GM-FCA lawsuit loops auto execs into UAW scandal

Labor and workers’ rights

GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder signed Michigan’s Right to Work law during Lame Duck seven years ago and Michigan has never been the same. We talked with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about what can be done for workers’ rights, as the GOP Legislature isn’t interested in repealing the law.

Whitmer talks workers’ rights, as GOP Legislature shows no sign of budging on Right to Work

Haglund also wrote about one of the unintended — and often-overlooked — facets of Michigan’s economy, a shortage of workers — and why.

Rick Haglund: Michigan is running out of workers. That’s bad news for the economy.

Michigan is no longer a worker-friendly state, after a series of anti-union measures like Right to Work. For Labor Day, we broke down a new study on how workers fare on a variety of fronts.

Oxfam report: Michigan lands in the bottom half of states for workers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, business groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers want to close Michigan’s “skills gap” for workers, but we looked at what’s behind these workforce development efforts.

Whitmer wants to close ‘skills gap,’ but some experts call it ‘a lie’

Economy and trade

President Donald Trump’s trade war has caused some confusion for Michigan businesses and consumers and the Advance looked at how they’re dealing with it.

Tariffs causing heartburn for Michigan retailers, consumers

The agricultural sector — a key part of Michigan’s economy — has been particularly hard hit by the trade war.

Trump’s trade war with China hits home in Michigan

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.