Around this time last year, Jeff Hoops—CEO of Blackjewel LLC—was having a busy week. On July 1, 2019, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, abruptly closing the company’s Bell Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming and laying off 700 workers. Construction had by that point begun on a $30 million “first phase” of the new Grand Patrician Resort he was building in his hometown of Milton, West Virginia, set to include a 3,500-seat replica of the Roman Colosseum. Within days, hundreds of Blackjewel miners in the Powder River Basin and Appalachia reported money “disappearing” from their bank accounts after paychecks had been deposited. On July 3, a bankruptcy judge granted Blackjewel $5 million in relief funds in exchange for Hoops stepping down as CEO. Blackjewel workers filed a lawsuit over stolen wages shortly thereafter. In Harlan County, Kentucky, they held a two-month sit-in on train tracks to block coal from their former employer from getting to market. Eventually, a court ordered that Blackjewel cough up the back pay. Many say Blackjewel still owes them, and Hoops is under investigation.Read more
Way back in January (it’s been a long year) Hallburton was already souring on shale. Way before the novel coronavirus put the final nail in the coffin of the West Texas shale revolution, the multinational corporation and one of the largest oil field service companies in the world had very publicly been going through a rough patch with shale oil. January 2020 marked the posting of Halliburon’s third straight quarterly loss during the national shale slump that also caused the corporation to take a $2.2 billion charge to its earnings. As a result of this massive shale slump, Halliburton laid off a whopping eight percent of its North American staff in the middle of last year, before dismissing even more employees in the Western U.S. “The charge for asset impairments was centered on hydraulic fracturing and legacy drilling equipment units, and employee severance costs,” Reuters reported that the company had said in late January.Read more
The Paycheck Protection Program, a stimulus effort intended to serve as a lifeline for the nation’s smallest employers, helped to save about 2.3 million jobs through the first week of June, according to a paper co-authored by economists at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ADP Research Institute.
The program, created as part of the CARES Act in late March, had funneled more $518 billion in aid to small businesses as of mid-July. Firms with fewer than 500 employees can have their loans forgiven if they retain a certain share of employees and meet other requirements.Read more
Located in the middle of the New Mexico desert, Pie Town is as much a nostalgic idea as an actual place. Founded in the 1920s and named after a bakery that sold dried-apple pies, most maps no longer list it. In the last census, its population numbered 186.
When Kathy Knapp and her family visited in 1995, there wasn’t even any pie, just a mournful sign on a boarded-up bakery: “Used to be pie, ain’t no more. 4 sale.” A baker, Knapp’s mother took it the hardest. “She said, ‘It’s wrong. It’s so un-American,’ Knapp recalls. They left, but neither could get the spot, or Pie Town, out of their minds. A few months later Knapp bought the property for $110,000; her mom moved in, named the place Pie-o-neer, and started selling pies.Read more
Conservatives are apoplectic about its $1 trillion cost. Embattled mainstream Republicans are desperate to act quickly and aggressively to show voters they are doing something about the pandemic and resulting recession. And President Trump keeps insisting on proposals, like a costly payroll tax cut, that will do nothing to help tens of millions of jobless Americans and that even members of his own party do not support.
The debate over the next round of coronavirus relief has exposed deep divisions among Republicans over spending and policy, leaving the fate of a huge economic rescue package in limbo as the virus surges around the country and posing an election-year dilemma for a party already facing a grim political landscape.Read more