President Biden met with business leaders at the White House on Tuesday as part of his push to rally support for the $1.9 trillion pandemic package being debated in Congress and his plan to raise the minimum wage.
Mr. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with the chief executives of Walmart, Gap, Lowe’s and JPMorgan Chase, as well as Thomas J. Donohue, the outgoing head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Over the course of about 90 minutes, the group discussed the minimum wage, expanding the use of earned-income tax credits, and other ways to help stimulate the economy, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation.
Mr. Biden spoke for about 15 minutes about his stimulus plan and concerns for the economy before turning to the business leaders for input, the person said.
Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, raised the idea of an augmented earned-income tax credit, which could help boost pay for people with lower earnings, the person said. He also talked about how the lack of clear policy plans in Washington in recent years on immigration, infrastructure and education had in his view stymied economic health, added the person.
Gap’s chief executive, Sonia Syngal, spoke about how the pandemic has affected the large numbers of women and people of color who work in retail, a spokesperson for the company said.
The idea of an across-the-board minimum wage increase to $15 an hour — championed by Democrats — faces opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and at least one of the chief executives invited to the event has also urged a slower, more targeted increase. Doug McMillon of Walmart has said that he believes $7.25 is too low but that any plan should take into account “geographic differences.”
Such a move would not happen right away, if at all. Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have already committed to not raise the wage until the pandemic has subsided. It also faces significant headway from Republicans, who say it will force small businesses to fire workers and could put some out of business.
But Mr. Biden and his allies in Congress see as a central weapon for fighting poverty and inequality.
A report by the Congressional Budget Office on Monday found evidence that both sides cited in support of their arguments: a $15 minimum wage would offer raises to 27 million people and lift 900,000 people above the poverty line, but it would also cost 1.4 million jobs, the budget office concluded.
Here are the chief executives who were invited to the event on Tuesday:
Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase
Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Doug McMillon of Walmart
Sonia Syngal of Gap Inc.
Marvin R. Ellison of Lowe’s Companies
Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.
Salesforce, the business software giant and San Francisco’s largest employer, said on Tuesday that it would allow most of its employees to permanently work remotely on a full- or part-time basis.
The company, which has 54,000 employees, said most workers would visit the office one to three days a week for meetings and collaborative work. A small population will work from the office four or five days a week, and other Salesforce workers who don’t live nearby or need an office will be fully remote.
Tech companies have been at the forefront of permanent work-from-home policies. In May, Facebook was one of the first to announce that it would allow many employees to work remotely even after the pandemic. Twitter, Coinbase, Shopify and Microsoft have followed suit.
Salesforce said in December it would buy the workplace chat app Slack. Over the summer, as Salesforce and other companies toyed with the idea of returning to the office, Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chief executive, seemed to acknowledge that office work would be permanently changed.
“I just feel very strongly that we have the ability to do something very powerfully here and to motivate this new workplace, just like we did in the prior workplace,” Mr. Benioff said at the time. “Technology is actually going to become a critical part of managing our workplace, where before it was not part of our culture.”
Salesforce said it planned to redesign offices to create more spaces that foster collaboration, including “café-style seating, open-air conference areas and private nooks, with an emphasis on clean desks and social distancing,” the company said in a statement.
The Labor Department has reinstated a career lawyer who contends that she was ousted from her job in the Trump administration in retaliation for her objections to the department’s handling of a major pay discrimination case.
The lawyer, Janet Herold, was overseeing the department’s litigation against the tech giant Oracle when, according to a complaint that she filed last summer, the newly confirmed labor secretary, Eugene Scalia, began to intervene improperly in the case.
A Labor Department official with knowledge of the Oracle case said a superior of Ms. Herold’s had told her that Mr. Scalia intended to settle the case for less than $40 million despite an estimate from the government’s expert witness that workers were owed hundreds of millions of dollars in back pay. The official said Ms. Herold had informed colleagues of this development and told them she had objected.
In her complaint, filed with a federal office that investigates retaliation against whistle-blowers, Ms. Herold said that after she objected a second time to Mr. Scalia’s involvement in the case last summer, she was told she was being reassigned from Los Angeles to a job in Chicago for which she had no expertise. She was fired in the final days of the Trump administration after she refused the reassignment.
Mr. Scalia has since departed as labor secretary, and President Biden has nominated Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston to succeed him.
In an email Tuesday to Ms. Herold’s colleagues, a senior Labor Department official said that the department was pleased to announce Ms. Herold’s reinstatement and that it had “full confidence” in her and “will continue to benefit from her talent, leadership, energy and litigation skills.”
The department later confirmed the move but declined to elaborate.
After the complaint was filed last summer, a Labor Department spokeswoman said that Ms. Herold had no basis for a whistle-blower complaint and that “at no time has the department engaged in retaliation against her.”
An administrative law judge ruled against the government in the Oracle case last September, concluding that the evidence did not establish a pattern of discrimination at Oracle, or knowledge of widespread discrimination by the company’s leadership.
The department announced in December that it would not appeal the ruling, despite the urging of career lawyers involved in the case to do so.
Riot Games, the video game publisher that produced the popular title League of Legends, said Tuesday it was investigating claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination against its chief executive, Nicolo Laurent.
Mr. Laurent and Riot were sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court in January by Sharon O’Donnell, a former executive assistant to Mr. Laurent. In court documents, Ms. O’Donnell said Mr. Laurent repeatedly made sexually suggestive remarks to her, asked her to work at his house when his wife was not home, and told women who worked for Riot that the way to handle stress related to the coronavirus pandemic was to “have kids.”
“Riot Games is a male-dominated culture,” the lawsuit said. Female employees like Ms. O’Donnell were “discriminated against, harassed and treated as second-class citizens,” it said.
When she refused Mr. Laurent’s advances, Ms. O’Donnell said in the lawsuit, he yelled at her, grew hostile, took away some of her responsibilities and eventually fired her in July.
Ms. O’Donnell “believes that this was because she refused to have sex or an affair with the defendant,” according to the lawsuit, which was first reported on Tuesday by Daily Esports.
Riot disputed Ms. O’Donnell’s claim in a statement, saying she “was dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people.”
Riot said an outside law firm was conducting the investigation into Mr. Laurent and was being overseen by a committee of the company’s board of directors. Riot said Mr. Laurent was cooperating with the investigation.
Riot, which is owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent, has grown into one of the world’s most prominent video game companies.
Its flagship League of Legends game, released in 2009, brought in more than $1.8 billion in revenue last year, according to an estimate from the research firm SuperData. And the series of professional competitions Riot has built around the game has attracted tens of millions of fans and turned star gamers into e-sports celebrities who can make millions of dollars.
But Riot has also been under fire for what employees have said is a sexist, toxic workplace. In 2019, it agreed to pay $10 million to the 1,000 women who had worked at the company since 2014 to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming gender discrimination and unequal pay.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which has been investigating Riot since 2018, said last year that the women could be entitled to as much as $400 million, which Riot disputed. It said earlier this month that it was moving forward in court with an effort to seek “class-wide relief” for the women who worked at Riot.
At 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, CNN displayed a countdown clock to mark the minutes until the start of former President Donald J. Trump’s second impeachment trial.
On MSNBC, the prime time anchors, Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace, took their places to lead viewers through an afternoon of special coverage.
On cable news channels that have been largely supportive of the former president, the coverage had a different tone. On Fox News, panelists were offering a grim view of President Biden’s economic agenda. And on Newsmax, commentators were weighing whether or not a Republican could become the governor of California.
And even as Fox News started to home in on the proceedings, it did so with a twist: “As we await the second Trump impeachment trial in the Senate, which is now less than 30 minutes away, thousands of National Guard troops remain stationed in our nation’s Capitol,” said the anchor Harris Faulkner.
She added that the cost of the troops, who have been in Washington since a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol in deadly riot on Jan. 6, was “reaching stunning, eye-popping levels. Of course it is. It’s our money. They’re spending our money.” After a commercial break, a Fox News panel convened to discuss that very topic.
At 1 p.m., Fox News and Newsmax started broadcasting from the Senate floor. The trial opened with a video featuring scenes from the siege on the Capitol, footage that did not bleep out several profanities used by the mob. Roughly 45 minutes into the opening arguments, Newsmax cut away, and the anchor John Bachman offered viewers an apology.
“The video was played on the onset — we apologize if folks were tuning in,” he said. “Obviously, some strong language there. But that was video evidence presented by Democrats.”
At 2:15 p.m., as the major cable news networks, including Fox, stuck with uninterrupted coverage of the trial, the Newsmax anchor Heather Childers teased an segment before breaking to a commercial: “Coming up: What is President Trump doing today?”
Twitter said on Tuesday that its revenue in the fourth quarter last year was $1.29 billion, a 28 percent increase from the previous year and slightly above Wall Street expectations. Profit for the quarter was $222 million, bolstered by a turnaround in income after a significant drop in ad spending earlier in 2020.
The company lost $1.14 billion for the year, but the fourth-quarter improvement indicated that Twitter has largely recovered from the dip in advertising revenue in the early days of the pandemic.
Although advertisers have returned to Twitter and revenue from ads has increased, investors have worried that Twitter’s advertising features are not keeping pace with social media competitors like Facebook and Snap.
Twitter’s daily active users who saw ads grew 26 percent to 192 million in the fourth quarter, one million less than analysts had anticipated.
Twitter said it had improved its so-called direct response advertising products, and on Monday, the company unveiled several revamped ad products. But it could face another hurdle when Apple debuts a new version of its mobile operating system this year that includes privacy changes that could limit the way advertisers track consumers.
“I expect Twitter will have to address the elephant in the room: Apple’s iOS 14 update and how that affects their ad targeting,” said Jessica Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester.
Twitter could also face questions about its decision to drop former President Donald J. Trump from the platform in January. Mr. Trump was one of Twitter’s most prominent users and attracted a large audience, and some analysts wondered if his absence would result in a decline in users. But Twitter said that daily active users had increased in January.
“2020 was an extraordinary year for Twitter,” Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We are more proud than ever to serve the public conversation, especially in these unprecedented times.”
The pandemic continues to buffet Lyft’s ride-hailing business. The company said on Tuesday that revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020 was $570 million, a 44 percent decline from the year before but in line with Wall Street expectations. Losses increased 22 percent, to $458.2 million.
Lyft’s business had been improving early in the quarter but slumped in November and December as coronavirus cases climbed in the United States.
Still, Lyft said there were signs of recovery. Fourth quarter revenue was 14 percent above the $500 million in income from the third quarter. The company also said it had adjusted to the decline in demand by decreasing its spending on driver acquisition and marketing, which prevented the losses from being worse. And with vaccines on the horizon, Lyft said it expected stronger demand in 2021.
But the pandemic has taken an undeniable toll on Lyft’s business. Revenue for 2020 was down 35 percent, to $2.4 billion. Ride-hail drivers said they have also seen their earnings fluctuate during the pandemic and have struggled to get enough safety supplies like masks and sanitizers.
During an earnings call with analysts, Lyft executives said the company remained on track to meet its profitability goal this year.
Lyft’s shares were up 9 percent in after-hours trading.
Analysts said the need to keep drivers engaged may push Lyft to expand into the delivery business. The company has a small delivery arm that has focused on transporting essential goods during the pandemic, but a broader delivery business would provide an alternative revenue stream and keep drivers active when demand for rides is down.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Lyft can’t afford not to be participating in online food delivery, grocery delivery or essentials delivery,” said Tom White, a senior research analyst at D.A. Davidson.
Investors also want to know when Lyft could become profitable, Mr. White said. Lyft had aimed to turn a profit by the end of 2021, but it’s unclear whether the pandemic will change that timeline.
“Despite the difficult backdrop in 2020, we continued to focus on improving our business for the long-term,” Logan Green, Lyft’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The progress we’ve made has been significant and I believe we are now in a stronger position than at any time in our past.”
Kellen Browning contributed reporting.
As the recovery in America’s job market first progressed and then stalled last year, fates diverged sharply for America’s low-income workers and their higher-paid counterparts, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows.
Employment for high-wage workers — defined as people who work in jobs that typically pay more than $85,000 per year — had risen slightly above its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2020. But employment for low-wage workers, those in jobs that generally pay less than $30,000, remained 14 percent lower and had begun to dip again.
“Lower-wage workers have much less ability to work remotely — think food servers and cashiers — compared to higher-wage workers,” Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, researchers at the New York Fed, wrote in their analysis.
The reversal for lower-wage workers started in October, as new virus cases began to pick up again.
Even as lower-wage jobs in the service industry have been heavily impacted by state and local lockdowns and social distancing among consumers, managers, office workers and other highly paid employees have been able to shift to working from home. An average of nearly 60 percent of high-wage workers have been able to work remotely, the researchers say, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to just 7 percent of employees in low-wage jobs.
The disparities have split along demographic lines. The authors found that, through December, Hispanic workers, Black workers, younger people and those with a high school education or less had all lost jobs more heavily than their white, older and more-educated counterparts.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Tuesday that he was fighting to include a federal minimum-wage increase in a sweeping bill Democrats are drafting to carry President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but declined to say whether Democrats would seek to upend Senate rules to make sure that it survived.
Mr. Schumer said he was working with the Senate official charged with interpreting the chamber’s rules to make sure the plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 could pass muster according to strict standards for what can be included in a budget-reconciliation measure. Democrats are determined to advance the stimulus package as part of a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority to pass and thus could be enacted, if necessary, without Republican support.
But it is unclear whether the wage increase qualifies under the restrictive rules, and Mr. Biden has said he does not expect it to survive. Mr. Schumer would not say whether Democrats would take the extraordinary step of trying to overrule the Senate’s parliamentarian, if necessary, to insist on its inclusion.
His remarks came as he appeared with the newly installed Democratic chairmen of the committees charged with considering the stimulus package, and just as the Senate was to begin the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.
“To the pundits who said we can’t do both at once, we say you are wrong,” Mr. Schumer said. “We can and we are.”
House committees were to begin meeting on Tuesday afternoon to solidify the details of Mr. Biden’s pandemic aid plan, while senators were set to spend hours in the chamber listening to arguments in Mr. Trump’s trial.
Even as he sought to focus attention on the stimulus package, Mr. Schumer said the trial was a necessary step to bring closure and consequences after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which Mr. Trump stands accused of inciting.
“When you have such a serious charge, sweeping it under the rug will not bring unity,” he said. “It will keep the sore open, the wounds open. You need truth and accountability.”
General Motors said it would extend by a few weeks the closure of three North American plants because of the semiconductor shortage that is disrupting auto production around the world.
The company halted production on Monday at plants in Fairfax, Kan.; Ingersoll, Ontario; and San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and now plans to keep them idle until the middle of March, G.M. said in a statement. The automaker had originally planned for a weeklong halt.
G.M. also said two plants in Wentzville, Mo., and Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, would produce vehicles without the electronic components that use chips that are in short supply, and install the parts later.
A spokesman said the company is using the limited supply of chips for more popular cars and trucks.
The chip shortage is the result of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. When auto plants had to close last spring because of the virus, chip-makers shifted production to consumer-electronics products such as game consoles and have struggled to restore production of auto chips fast enough to keep up with demand for new cars.
Almost every automaker has had to slow production because of shortages of critical electronics such as engine and transmission controllers.
Last week, Ford Motor said that the shortage would likely lower its pretax profit this year by $1 billion to $2.5 billion.
G.M. is expected to elaborate on the impact the shortage is having on its operations when it reports 2020 earnings on Wednesday.
The five former NY1 anchors who left the popular local news channel after settling an age and gender discrimination lawsuit late last year now say the station is breaking its promise to the women by not submitting any of their recent work for Emmy consideration.
The new claim was filed late Monday night with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The five former anchors — Amanda Farinacci, Jeanine Ramirez, Kristen Shaughnessy, Roma Torre and Vivian Lee — have a combined three Emmys and 10 additional Emmy nominations (not to mention nine New York Press Club awards).
The anchors filed the age and gender discrimination lawsuit in June 2019 and left the station in December 2020; the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. They now say that NY1’s decision not to submit their 2020 work for Emmy nominations, which are due Feb. 15, is retaliation for the discrimination lawsuit.
In the complaint, the former anchors say the station had previously agreed to submit more than a dozen of their stories, including eight of Ms. Torre’s theater reviews (a category for which she won an Emmy in 2019); Ms. Shaughnessy’s and Ms. Lee’s anchoring on Nov. 7, the day Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the presidential election; Ms. Farinacci’s story about a New York police detective discovering her biological family after the Sept. 11 terror attacks; and Ms. Ramirez’s portrait of a Brooklyn family affected by gun violence.
Maureen Huff, a spokeswoman for Charter Communications, the cable giant that acquired NY1 in 2016, said, “While the women no longer work at NY1, we do not prohibit former employees from submitting their work for Emmy consideration.” She did not comment on why the station was not submitting their work.
David E. Gottlieb, a lawyer for the anchors, said in an email that the anchors “don’t have the footage at this point” and have not asked the station for it.
Bitcoin continued its rally, the latest leg of which was set off by Tesla’s announcement on Monday that it had bought $1.5 billion worth of the digital currency and would start accepting Bitcoin payments. Bitcoin rose above $48,000 per coin early on Tuesday, a record, before coming off that high later, according to CoinDesk, a trading platform for digital currencies.
It is up more than 45 percent in 2021, and other cryptocurrencies are rising, too — including Dogecoin, which rose about 1,000 percent over the past week.
The momentum has been building as more trading apps allow users to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies, reported Nathaniel Popper for The New York Times: “The rally is a moment of euphoria for the thousands of different versions of digital money, which years ago were dismissed as little more than online Beanie Babies caught in a speculative bubble,” he wrote.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent on Tuesday. The index had climbed to another record on Monday for a six-day consecutive gain.
European markets were modestly changed, with the FTSE in Britain rising about 0.1 percent while the Stoxx Europe 600 fell about the same.
The Nikkei in Japan gained 0.4 percent, while the Kospi in South Korea fell 0.2 percent.
Democrats in the House proposed legislation on Monday to send stimulus checks of $1,400 to Americans earning up to $75,000 and households with incomes up to $150,000. The direct payments are a crucial part of President Biden’s stimulus plan, although the proposal may run into opposition from Republicans and some Democrats who want to focus the payments on lower-income Americans.
House committees on Tuesday are expected to begin considering the overall $1.9 trillion package, aimed at supporting the economy through the pandemic.
Benefits of lockdown
Ocado, the online supermarket based in Britain, reported a 35 percent rise in sales over the past year. As the company invests in new warehouses, “The landscape for food retailing is changing, for good,” said the chief executive, Tim Steiner.
Still, the company reported a net loss of 44 million pounds (about $60 million), down from 215 million pounds the previous year, and its shares fell.