Member Briefing November 9, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Election Results: Dems Hold Statewide Offices, GOP Makes Gains in Assembly, State Senate and US House & Senate

Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado have declared victory, though the race was close by NY standards. With 93% of the vote counted Hochul Leads Republican Lee Zeldin 52.7% to 47.3%. In addition, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli have declared victory. Zeldin’s strong showing may have helped Republican House candidates in the Hudson Valley. Though these races are too close to call in NY 17 Lawler (R)  leads Maloney (D) 50.6% – 49.4%. In NY-18 Ryan (D) Leads Schmidt (R) 50.4% - 49.6%. In NY-19 Molinaro (R) leads Riley (D) 51.1% - 48.9%. Most State Races remain too close to call.

Nationally the GOP is likely to gain control of the House of Representatives.  Senate control remains an open question with several races too close to call and the race in Georgia headed to a December runoff.  Key Democratic victories in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, however, make them likely to maintain control.

War in Ukraine Headlines

What's Up With the Rail Negotiations?

With the possibility of a national rail strike looming in the near future, the NAM is working with association members, congressional leadership and the White House to urge all parties toward a final resolution. Although more than half of the unions involved have now ratified the agreement, at least two unions have voted to reject it—raising the likelihood of a strike., and three have yet to vote. As it stands now, the hard deadline for unanimous agreement by all unions is 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, at which point a strike could be called. 

Two months ago, U.S. Class I railroads and the various labor unions composing the rail workforce agreed to a deal brokered in part through efforts led by the Biden administration that temporarily averted a strike, pending ratification votes by each union’s rank-and-file membership. Class I freight rail companies will have to begin making decisions about possible disruptions and metering rail service as soon as this weekend.

Read more at The WSJ

3 Ways to Navigate Political Conversations With Coworkers

Nearly 60% of employees feel that talking about politics at work is unacceptable, according to a survey by Glassdoor. Yet workplace conflicts are becoming increasingly unavoidable: according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 45% of employees have experienced political disagreements in the workplace, and 26% experienced differential treatment because of their political views.

Employers may find themselves in a tough spot if they need to mediate these often-nuanced issues, says Adam Weber, senior vice president of community at 15Five, a performance management company. But they'll be more successful if they create a culture where people feel respected, recognized and heard. "Everyone has a story outside of work," Weber says. "We want to be respectful of all people. We want to recognize that everyone is different. Be thoughtful about who we share with and when we share things with."

Read more at Employee Benefits News

U.S. COVID – How Does Flu Spread Compared With Covid? What to Know as Flu Cases Surge

Covid-19 has given us all a crash course in viral transmission and prevention. We know far more than we ever wanted to about how the virus that causes Covid spreads, how long it can incubate in the body and what kind of masks are most effective. That new awareness has made some of us ask similar questions about other viruses now that respiratory illnesses like flu and RSV are surging.

So how much do we really know about how flu spreads and how it compares with the virus that causes Covid? Here’s what scientists say

Read more at The WSJ

China’s Exports Drop Sharply as Global Economy Slows

China’s exports to the rest of the world shrank unexpectedly in October, a sign that global trade is in sharp retreat as consumers and businesses cut back spending. The slide in exports from the world’s factory floor adds to the gloom surrounding the global economy as leaders from the Group of 20 advanced and developing countries prepare to gather in Indonesia next week.

Exports from China declined 0.3% last month compared with a year earlier, China’s General Administration of Customs said Monday, the weakest pace of growth since May 2020, when trade was hobbled by countries’ early efforts to contain a worsening global pandemic. That was well below the expectations of economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, who had expected exports to increase 4% year over year. Monday’s data showed exports to the U.S. fell 13% on the year in October, the third month of decline, while sales to the European Union fell 9%.

Read More at The WSJ

Novavax Says Phase 3 Trial of Omicron-Targeting COVID Vaccine Supports its Use as a Booster

Novavax Inc. NVAX, +0.15% said Tuesday a late-stage trial of its vaccine targeting the COVID variant omicron supports its continued and future use as a booster. The company said the Phase 3 trial met its main strain-change endpoint. "The data demonstrate that the BA.1 vaccine candidate neutralizing responses in those not previously exposed to COVID-19 were greater than those of the prototype vaccine (NVX-CoV2373), enabling a shift to a new variant vaccine, if necessary," the company said in a statement. The prototype vaccine induced a broad immune response against the original coronavirus and BA.1 and BA.5 strains.

"Today's results show that use of our prototype vaccine as a booster induces cross-reactive responses to a broad range of variants with the potential to protect against future strains," said Gregory M. Glenn, president of R&D at Novavax. Our vaccine, which provides broad immune response even in the face of evolving variants, presents a potential strategy to protect against COVID-19 now and into the future." Novavax shares fell 3.8% premarket and are down 86% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.96% has fallen 20%.

Read more at MarketWatch

No Immediate End in Sight for China’s Costly Zero-Covid Policy

China has reiterated its unswerving commitment to its longstanding zero-Covid policy, despite mounting public frustration the stringent measures are costing the very lives they’re intended to protect. Unfounded rumors of an exit from the costly strategy had sent Chinese stocks soaring last week, but at a news conference Saturday, Chinese health officials vowed to continue with the country’s zero-tolerance approach that aims to eliminate Covid cases as soon as they flare up. The unrelenting campaign has kept infections and deaths low at great economic and social cost, as new fast-spreading variants make containing the virus near impossible.

The announcement dealt a heavy blow to hopes for an easing of restrictions, fueled by unverified social media rumors that China was forming a high-level committee to pivot away from zero-Covid. Share prices of Chinese companies listed in mainland China, Hong Kong and the US surged last week as investors eagerly seized on any speculation for a possible relaxation.

Read more at CNN

EU Threatens US Over Electric Car Subsidies

The European Union threatened Monday to take retaliatory measures against the United States for electric car subsidies that favor domestic manufacturers. The 27-nation bloc is upset about Washington's "Inflation Reduction Act," which will see vast spending on green energy initiatives and includes tax breaks for U.S.-made electric cars and batteries.

Brussels says those benefits for American electric vehicle makers would put e-cars made in the EU at an unfair disadvantage on the lucrative U.S. domestic market. EU finance ministers meeting in Brussels said they believed Washington was not hearing Europe's worries. "I'm not sure whether they are aware of our concerns," German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said. He added: "We should do everything to avoid a tit-for-tat scenario or even a trade war."

Read more at The WSJ

Americans’ Confidence in Housing Market Reaches Record Low

Consumer confidence in the housing market hit a new low last month as persistently high home prices and rising mortgage rates continued to cool the once hot housing market, according to data released Monday.  Only 16 percent of buyers in October said they thought it was a good time to buy a home, Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) revealed. That marked a new low since the index started in 2011. The percentage of buyers who said it was a good time to sell decreased by 8 percentage points to 51 percent.

Potential homebuyers and sellers face a litany of challenges amid the Federal Reserve’s effort to tamp down growing inflation by raising interest rates, an issue Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged last week after the U.S. central bank’s latest rate hike.

Read more at The Hill

John Kerry, Major Companies in Talks for Fund to Transition Developing Nations off Fossil Fuels

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in talks with external partners to use funds from major companies to sponsor developing countries’ transition away from fossil fuels, a source confirmed to The Hill. A person familiar with the discussions said Kerry will announce further details at an event at the upcoming COP27 United Nations climate summit, emphasizing that the proposal is for a partnership rather than a specific initiative of the U.S. government. Initial reporting by The Financial Times, which the person familiar confirmed to The Hill is “overall” accurate, would involve an independent, to-be-determined accrediting organization to certify the credits.

“This isn’t the launch of an entity, it’s the discussion of a framework which is intentional to allow time to work with all stakeholders next year to develop the details and ensure just transition safeguards and environmental integrity provisions,” a person familiar told The Hill. “The framework would be a program to scale up private finance to accelerate the clean energy transition in developing countries, through the creation and sale of high-quality carbon credits.”

Read more at WKNR

Basic, Programmed Robots Save Company $1.5M Yearly

Ultimately, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is about mitigating latency from the manufacturing process, whether it be guaranteeing the right parts or materials are available at the right time or assigning tasks to best unlock the skills and expertise of operators. When combined, all these elements will help organizations exceed consumer expectations and deliver on critical moments of service.

Read more at SME

Renault Splits into 5 Businesses in Drive to Boost Profit

French car maker Renault (RENA.PA) announced a major overhaul that will see it separate its activities in five businesses, deepen ties with China's Geely and spin off its electric vehicles unit through a stock market listing next year. At a long-awaited investor presentation on Tuesday, Renault said it targeted operating margins of 8% for 2025 and rising to more than 10% in 2030, from 5% expected this year.

An early mover in the electric car race, Renault has fallen behind newer, more agile rivals like Tesla. After needing emergency state cash during the COVID pandemic, the group is looking to extend on a turnaround following losses in 2019 and 2020, and increase the valuation of its different parts.

Read more at BenefitsPro

More Workers Get Side Hustles to Keep Up With Rising Costs

The October jobs report shows the number of Americans working part-time jobs in addition to their full-time jobs has increased 6%, year-over-year, to 4.5 million people, according to statistics from the Labor Department. With unemployment at 3.7%, the job market is still strong but is showing more signs of cooling. Inflation is still eclipsing wage gains, driving some full-time workers to consider getting additional part-time jobs for the first time in their working lives.

Nearly three-quarters of workers said they need additional work to make enough income due to inflation, according to an October survey of more than 1,700 U.S.-based employees by job search website A separate survey of more than 4,700 people conducted by Prudential Financial Inc. found 81% of Gen-Z and 77% of millennial workers said they have pursued gig work or are considering additional side work this year to supplement their income.

Read more at The WSJ

Stewart Airport Mail Processing Center to Become Sorting and Delivery Center

Ten postal facilities nationwide have been identified by the Postal Service to become sorting and delivery centers and the giant Mid-Hudson Processing and Distribution Center at Stewart Airport is on the list to become a sorting and delivery center (S&DC). It is part of the 10-year plan to modernize the delivery network by combining and centralizing carrier operations in the large centers.

As part of the plan, carrier operations will shift, where feasible, to new S&DCs that have better infrastructure and adequate space, docks, conveyors and material handling equipment for more efficient operations, a postal spokesman said. It will also provide for more efficient operations while modernizing and leveraging current underutilized and vacant postal facilities, he said.

Read more at Barrons