Unions dominate Keep Keizer Livable funding

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By Jason Cox
Of The Keizertimes

Union dollars make up almost 90 percent of contributions promoting a ballot measure enacting retail building size limitations.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 has pumped $15,000 into Keep Keizer Livable’s coffers in the past three weeks alone as the March 8 ballot deadline approaches. Keep Keizer Livable has also retained the services of a John Kitzhaber campaign veteran and a political strategy firm.

In the coming few days, KKL co-founder Kevin Hohnbaum said efforts will be focused on “continuing our get-out-the-vote campaign, based on door-to-door, a good deal of phone calling, and a little bit of direct mail.”

The group, founded to oppose a big box discount grocer at Lockhaven Drive NE and Chemawa Road NE, has come out in force during the past two months in particular, spending $21,481 in the past two months, $17,302 of it in February alone. The group spent $10,435 in 2010.

And about 89 percent of its contributions came from labor unions, including $21,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 555. Three chapters of the AFL-CIO put in a combined $5,000 toward the effort.

A union representative told the Keizertimes last August, when this newspaper first reported UFCW’s involvement, that his organization’s interest was in “preserving communities, having local, family-wage jobs that provide affordable healthcare and safe pensions.”

The union represents some or all of the employees at Roth’s Fresh Markets, Safeway and Albertsons, along with all Fred Meyer employees.

Jeff Anderson, secretary and treasurer of UFCW 555, said Wal-Mart in particular “is the number one predator, not a competitor” and said the company shifts costs like employee health care onto taxpayers via publicly-funded healthcare programs.

“Much of the retail industry does not provide affordable health care to their employees,” Anderson said. “Very few actually offer pensions. So there’s a spiral down when you expand big boxes into communities, you actually also lower the wages of the community that you enter.”

The measure would restrict retail buildings 65,000 square feet or larger to the currently-developed portion of Keizer Station. The restrictions would apply to both single-store retailers like Walmart and strip malls with multiple tenants, meaning any new retail buildings would have to be less than this size. Ballots are due March 8.

Roth’s Fresh Markets has given a total of $2,200 in cash and in-kind contributions, state records show. About $893 came from other cash contributions.

As of Tuesday, about 22 percent of ballots had been returned. Sharon Ricks, supervisor of Marion County Elections, said this was a “good” turnout so far, but it’s too early to tell for sure what the final turnout might be. She said about 50 percent is a solid benchmark in a special election, “but we would like 100 percent.

“I do know there are campaigns out there, notifying the people who are not voting,” Ricks said. “That will make a difference.”

Campaign finance records from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office show the single biggest expense – $6,950 – as a recent payout to Winpower Strategies, a campaign consulting firm that does direct mail, strategy and voter targeting, according to its website.

Records also show $500 paid to Miles Eshaia, who was the Salem-area field organizer for now-Gov. John Kitzhaber’s campaign.

Other significant expenses include attorney fees, signs and printing, postage and advertising in the Keizertimes and Statesman Journal.

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6 Responses for “Unions dominate Keep Keizer Livable funding”

  1. Pat says:

    Gee, why am I not surprised? This turns out to be a battle between union and nonunion! I wish organized labor would stay the heck out of my business. I want more shopping choices in Keizer. And shame on KKL for selling out to the unions. Keep Keizer Livible is a sham!

  2. Bob Gallagher, Keizer says:

    How much has the “Vote NO” side spent?
    Will Unions buy the vote, or will Keizer vote this nonsense down? Either way, 2 years from now I will be shopping at the Keizer Walmart.

  3. Neighbor says:

    Do you enjoy Keizer right now, solid infastructure,clean streets, wellmaintained landscape, easy to travel through, congestion, but only am traffic and pm traffic. That will change with “BigBox”.

    Do you like NE and/or SE Salem i.e. Lacaster Dr./Market st./Center St./Sunneyview/ State St, niether do I. One thing incommon…..BigBox Stores. Keizer will become the next NE/SE Salem.

    ps: Unions only hold 7% of American Jobs. Without unions, we would all be working 100hrs/week, no healthcare, no pentions, and kids under 16y/o would work the same hours as adults. Unions are only dangerous if they become to powerful, 7% of American Jobs, maybe you should look at BigBox stores for helping put Americans into another “Great Depression”.

    Another Taxpayers Point of View

  4. whattheheck says:

    For petes sake neighbor, take a deep breath. The beauty of Keizer Station is it is located next to I-5. Walmart is not solely responsible for the traffic on Lancaster. That was screwed up long before Walmart arrived. Why not use the super Walmart on Airport Road as an example. Heck you have Walmart, Lowes, and Cosco all in the same area. That traffic moves just fine. Your view of unions is outdated. They do not have the general public’s welfare in mind. They have their own. This is a perfect example. They are also cowards, hiding behind a neighborhood association. I can’t wait for the big box. More choices!

  5. Davis says:

    By the best evidence available, the outcome of this measure will have absolutely no impact on the Area C development since the text amendment that permitted the 120,000 square-foot building to be built there was the applicable law at the time the city approved the developer’s master plan. The measure will only stop future development based on that text amendment. Thus it looks like the unions are flushing their money down a black hole unless they also plan to underwrite any legal challenges against the Area C master plan should this ill-conceived measure pass.

    In a way, I find it sad that Michael Roth has decided that he would rather keep competition out of Keizer rather than take it on like his father did. I worked at the Lancaster & Center store for a bit more than five years during the ’70s. During that time Orville was able to thrive against a new Waremart (now WinCo) that went in right across the street (where Hometown Buffet and St. Vincent DePaul now reside), the expansion of Fred Meyer East to include grocery, and the building of a bigger Albertson’s at Sunnyview and Lancaster. I recall accepting checks from shoppers living in Keizer, Brooks, Woodburn (before he expanded there), and the Labish area, as well as Aumsville and Stayton. Surely those shoppers had opportunities closer to them, but they chose to purchase their groceries at Roth’s despite the extra distance.

    I certainly hope that the people of Keizer do not fall for the flawed reasoning of the union that only pits the people against their own best economic interests.

  6. 20YearsInKeizer says:

    Would someone please tell me how a Wal-Mart or Winco, or any other “big box” store will make Keizer “un” liveable? If you think Keizer is that vulnerable to progress, maybe you ought to move? I’ve never been able to shop at Roth’s because they are so EXPENSIVE! I drive all the way to SOUTH SALEM and spend my money in SOUTH SALEM at the SOUTH SALEM Winco. So my money goes to provide SOUTH SALEM Winco with revenue. I’d much rather keep my money in my own town and have Winco in Keizer. It will save me time, it will open jobs, and my money will stay local. I would rather have a Winco than a Wal-Mart, but I will probably shop there anyway TO SAVE MONEY.

    For those of you who cry that Wal-Mart runs out the “mom & pop” stores, that is true, however if the “mom & pop” stores didn’t charge so much, maybe Wal-Mart wouldn’t be such a success.


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