December 14, 2012

Nike sweetheart tax bill, petition to stop

While the CEOs of Nike make millions a year, and the working class toils for low wages in Nike factories, Oregon is considering the continuation of large tax benefits for Nike.

What follows below is an excerpt from an email from Working Families Party, Oregon; after that is a statement from SEIU 503.

From WFP:

In just one day we have already gathered over 1,000 signatures from literally every corner of the state for our petition opposing the sweetheart tax deal for Nike.  Will you help us get to 1,500?  If we reach our goal in the next 2 hours we will deliver this petition to all the WFP cross-nominated elected officials in the state, letting them know how important this issue is. 

Please sign and share this petition.  Let's keep up the pressure and tell our legislators to put on the brakes on the Nike tax deal. 

In case you needed more reasons to be concerned about the Nike deal that the legislature is considering in a hastily called special session today, consider these clippings from today's Oregonian:
Slippery slope
As one could readily predict, now Intel is upset they were left out of the Nike deal. [1]  Also, others in the legislature are trying to expand this program to cover even more businesses. [2]

Secrecy of the deal

The Oregonian reports that only a few legislators knew the details of the Nike plan in advance, and those that did were required to sign a six-page non-disclosure agreement. [3]

Protest growing

This is one of those moments that crystalizes a bigger problem--and people are saying enough! As Susan Barrett, a founder of Oregon Save Our Schools was quoted as saying at a protest rally last night, "It's bad process trying to lock in bad policy." [4]
Again, if we reach our goal of 1500 signatures by noon, we will send this petition to every WFP elected official in the state.  Please sign and share this petition with your friends:

From SEIU:
 SEIU Local 503 provided testimony yesterday expressing our deep concern regarding the legislation around Nike's expansion. The bill would grant the Governor the power to enter into a contract with a corporation to freeze the method (but not the rate) of taxation on the corporation if they substantially increase the size of their Oregon business.

We are very concerned because the process to consider this legislation is absolutely horrible. The four-day process from the release of the bill to the time the legislature is supposed to pass it is outrageous. Further, there are way too many loopholes in the bill. It would be highly suspect to pass a very narrow one-time bill to deal with a one-time situation, but this bill creates sweeping authority for the Governor to enter into long-term agreements on projects that may or may not create permanent living wage jobs with benefits.

Our allies in the legislature are pretty upset. Nike, the Governor, the AFL-CIO, and the building trades have lined up in favor of the legislation on the grounds that Nike's proposed expansion would create a tremendous number of construction jobs. Unemployment among union construction workers remains over 30% in many trades, so they are desperate.

The special session called by the Governor will be presided over by the lame duck legislature -- not the legislature elected in November, so our allies' power is somewhat limited. Our allies feel very boxed in. They want to create jobs and have empathy with unemployed construction workers. But many share our concerns with the content, and the concern about the process is pretty universal. But they feel like if they vote against this bill because of all the problems, they will be tarred as anti-jobs and anti-business. They are striving to improve the bill (read full text here), but many feel strongly that they have been put in a no-win situation. Some feel we need jobs so badly, they will support it. Other legislators want to cater to big business. Still others will feel like they have no good choice.

Some version of this bill is very likely to pass Friday, but our union is on record supporting job creation while attacking this terrible piece of legislation.


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