We won’t let the Kochs have their way in Oregon

The Kochs and their corporate-minded agenda are coming to Oregon. We won't be duped, and we're standing together to fight back.

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Charles and David Koch are two of the wealthiest men in America — combined, they’re valued at more than $100 billion dollars. Their family’s business, Koch Industries, is the second largest privately owned company in the United States, and the brothers’ political influence is no secret: Their wealth has shaped conservative politics at the local, state and federal levels, and they’ve built up a track record that includes lowering taxes on big corporations and the wealthy (which is good for them); reducing restrictions on environmental protections (also good for them), and dismantling labor unions that fight to give workers a stronger voice and fair pay (again, good for them). And through ALEC, the Koch-backed group that spends millions a year to push a corporate-minded agenda into the hands of legislators (and directly into state law), they’ve proposed bills to block Medicaid; fight wage increases; and limit voting access for people of color and students.

The Koch Brothers are also the guys behind Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a group that uses the energy behind the Tea Party to move the Koch-inspired agenda of lower taxes and further deregulation. AFP advocates for a number of issues, but they’re most notorious for their connection to Scott Walker and his full-throated attack on Wisconsin’s workers and labor unions.

The Koch Brothers and their counterparts have unleashed the same anti-worker attacks in Oregon.

Scott Walker, one of the the loudest anti-worker extremists and current Republican presidential candidate, became a talking head for corporate interests a few years ago, after garnering support from the Koch Bros and AFP. (Koch Industries donated $43,000 to his first gubernatorial campaign, and his reelection campaign was one of the top recipients of Koch contributions.) Shortly after coming into office for his first term, Walker used the state’s budget gap as an excuse to attack labor unions — he cut pay, and he also took away the basic right for these workers to collectively bargain and join a union, eliminating their voices.

So, what’s the big deal with getting rid of collective bargaining rights? Well, when workers are no longer able to bargain on their own behalf — when workers’ voices are silenced — their well-being is taken out of the equation in favor of single-minded corporate profits. Workers’ benefits and workplace protections decrease while profits for wealthy stockholders and CEOs increase. And it’s no secret that this is what the Kochs, AFP, and Walker were going for with their attacks on unions: The quieter the voices are for everyday workers, the louder and more powerful the wealthy become.

Corporate profit vs. worker pay

Data from Bureau of Economic Analysis. Gross operating surplus is used as a proxy for corporate profits. Worker compensation includes wages, salaries, tips, and benefits.

This is not a new playbook. They start by attacking public sector unions, then after they are weakened, they can go after the remaining unions and workplace protections. Before the anti-worker attacks in Wisconsin, Scott Walker was actually recorded saying he intended to “divide and conquer” unions, starting with the public sector. And do that, he did: In 2015, after dismantling public sector unions, Walker went after private sector unions, this time signing anti-worker legislation that creates “free-riders” and weakens unions.

The dismantling of labor unions in favor of corporate profits isn’t just something that’s happening six states away in the midwest: The Koch Brothers and their counterparts have unleashed the same anti-worker attacks in Oregon. If they have their way, Oregon workers will see lower wages and reduced benefits; our workplaces will be more dangerous; there will be less money circulating in our economy; and worst of all, there will be more power in the hands of those who are already at the top.

We’re joining our Keep Oregon Working coalition partners to stand up to the Koch Brothers and keep these anti-worker, anti-union laws out of Oregon. We won’t be duped. We know we do better when everyone does better, and we’re standing together to fight back.

We will defend workers’ voices, good jobs, and fair pay.

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