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Living Wage Community Meeting: Bend

April 8 and 9th
Community Meeting on Living Wage Jobs: Central Oregon Jobs with Justice

The meeting was called to order by by Michael Funke, Chairperson of Central Oregon Jobs with Justice. He introduced Michael Leachman, Author of In the Shadow of the Recovery.

- Central Oregon has the highest level of economic inequality in Oregon. The truth doesn't necessarily make us free, as can be seen by the current administration. In January of this year things are finally back to normal following the economic downturn of 4 years ago. Of the 51 Billion dollars earned in Oregon in the past year, 31 Billion of it went to the richest 20%.
- The best teams insist that the whole team benefit. The Republicans are not acting like the best team. The market doesn't protect opportunities for everyone. It is based on selfishness and greed. The best teams insist that the whole team benefit. The Republicans are not acting like the best team. The market doesn't protect opportunities for everyone. It is based on selfishness and greed.
- The privatized healthcare system is leading to increased Health care costs, this is not the case with Medicare.
- Instead of an ownership society we have an "You're on your own ship society."
- Credit and debt issues: People own less of their homes because of the refinancing boom. Financial institutions are preying on older home owners. We have had a sharp spike in foreclosures. Foreclosure rates in Oregon are above the national average. The increase in foreclosures holds down property values in neighborhoods.
- The Payday lending industry whose practices lead to massively excessive percentage rates, have created and industry that takes advantage of the poort.
- There has been a doubling of increases in bad hospital debt.
- There has been a sharp increase in bankruptcies. Oregon has produced more bankruptcies in the past 4 years than it has college degrees.
Michael Funke:
- Most jobs in Oregon do not pay a living wage.
- The minimum wage in Oregon is below the poverty level.
- We are on a perpetual downward spiral.
Linda Johnson of the Bend City Council spoke next: She spoke on the subject of the Juniper Ridge project and living wage jobs.
- We've got to hold on to what's best about Bend.
- There is a rapid projected population growth for the Bend area.
- The increase in new construction permits is greater that Portland or San Diego.
- Urban growth expansion will eventually lead to increasing the urban growth boundary.
- We need to increase the supply of industrial land in order to prevent Bend from becoming a bedroom community.
- Juniper ridge will be planned to be a "Green research park", with research and development facilities based on Eco-Industrial design. Space will be provided for satellite business the service the workers at the facilities. Educational institutions will be developed in conjunction with the purposes of the site.
Cal Mukumoto of the Business Alliance for Sustainable Energy (BASE) spoke about the possibilities for development of the biofuel industry in the area.
- Has worked extensively with Native American councils in central Oregon to work on development of alternatives to fossil fuels by use of forest biomass to create ethanol.
- Their vision is to develop energy conservation and sustainable energy.
- Transition from the fossil fuel based economy.
- Create sustainable energy firms in Central Oregon.
- Brand central Oregon as a renewable energy mecca.
- Central Oregon is a possible Silicon Valley of sustainable energy.
- Renewable energy
o uses indigenous resources.
o Keeps the money in the region.
o Reduces the cost of energy.
- The Warm Springs Forest Products Industries (WSFPI):
- Cuts trees in danger of forest fire.
- Is replacing outdated equipment
- Is installing an updated extraction turbine, which will lead to reduced smoke production.
- These projects will lead to steady, non-vacillating family wage jobs for loggers.
Rich Rohde of Oregon Action in Rogue Valley spoke about creating a living wage ordinance in Bend.
- People need to be empowered to be able to be heard.
- Fundamentally, people don't believe you can do anything.
- Cities that do well with a living wage ordinance have some kind of internal monitoring.
- Organize: a lot of small fish working together can eat a big fish.
Fernando Gaspin, President of the Central Oregon Labor Council spoke on the subject of the power of unions:
- Set conditions before going for a living wage ordinance.
- The AFL-CIO has make the whole notion of living wages part of the overall discourse.
- We need laws that protect the workers right to join unions.
- Governor Kulongowski supports the employee's free choice act.
- Create a workers rights board which defends the rights of workers in the workplace.
- There are problems that we don't here about. A workers rights board would address the issue.
- There is a cartoon the reads: "The conservatives have created more jobs." Ansewer: "Yeah, and I got three of them."
- We need to create vehicles to reach people where they are: Street theater, etc.
- We haven't organized anyone who wasn't afraid. We need to find ways to lessen the fear.
Ann Wheeler of Our Community First spoke on the subject of "Does Central Oregon Need a WalMart?"
- The campaign against WalMart provides an avenue for the living wage campaign.
- There's something for everybody if you want to oppose Walmart:
- Low wage jobs
- Union busting
- Health Insurance issues
- Child labor violations
- WalMart's policy is that the price and overhead costs are supposed to drop each year. This leads to plants closing down in the U. S. and going overseas. Sustainable industries are destroyed for the sake of efficiency.
- Are we going the be known as the community that has three WalMarts?
- Other big box stores are not hurting sustainability the way WalMart is.
Amen, I couldn't Agree More! 11.Apr.2005 18:54


Everything this author March Hare is absolutely correct. We are witnessing the collapse of our economic system in this country. If you are not angry, you are NOT paying attention! The federal government has been taken over by corporate big money and special interest lobbies that AGGRESSIVELY and ENDLESSLY pressure your government representatives in Washington DC to pass legislation that serve the interests of Wal Mart, other "big box" franchise outlets, or multinational corporations in general. On the flip side, corporate lobbyists fight TOOTH AND NAIL to prevent badly needed changes such as raising the minimum wage, or to provide healthcare as a human right--and not as a privelege of only the wealthy classes. What a gross injustice! All modern countries (such as Canada or the UK) have national healthcare for all it's citizens. It is only this disgustingly greedy corporate country the USA that REFUSES to care for it's own. Just awful. Because everyday Americans are so disorganized and distracted, corporations can and will continue to take full advantage of the situation at hand.

If everyday people don't make serious attempts to organize and aggressively litigate and fight back this current terrible situation in our country will not only remain the same, but will probably worsen. We are in for the fight of, and for our lives in the coming years ahead.