Stimson Lumber to lay off 60 Forest Grove mill workers
Stimson Lumber, one of the oldest businesses in Washington County, plans to cut 60 jobs at its sawmill south of Forest Grove,.
The layoffs, announced Friday, May 31, represent 40% of the mill's payroll and 20% of Stimson's Oregon workforce.
Andrew Miller, chief executive with Stimson Lumber, said the layoffs were due to an increasingly poor business environment in Oregon, which he said has "undermined the economic foundation of the mill."
"It breaks my heart that due to the rising cost of doing business in Oregon, our company is forced to shift operations to states like Idaho and Montana," Miller said. Those states are less expensive to work in, he said.
The Forest Grove mill is home to about half of Stimson's workforce. The company also operates in Tillamook and Clatskanie. The Forest Grove mill has been in operation since 1933.
Miller, a prominent donor to conservative causes and candidates, said several recent bills in the Oregon legislature led to the layoffs, including the Student Success Act, a $1 billion-per-year tax on businesses which passed this month in order to provide better funding for schools.
Stimson also said cap and trade legislation currently being debated in the Legislature and a 2015 bill to cut carbon emissions have raised costs and made it too difficult to continue operating in Oregon as the company has been.
Democrats currently hold super-majorities in both houses of the legislature and the governor's seat, which has made it difficult for Republican's to stop legislation they disagree with. Republican state senators refused to show up in the capital building for several days in an attempt to keep the Student Success Act from passing earlier this month. They eventually conceded on the bill, in exchange for the removal of bills related to gun control and vaccination requirements.
In a fiery statement, Miller said his company had weathered the Great Depression without layoffs, but said Democratic lawmakers had eroded the state's business community.
"I do not need to be hit with a 2x4 in the face to see that Oregon is an urban state and rural Oregon is a place for urbanites to recreate," Miller said. "Investment capital and jobs are mobile. I see the smoke. I do not need to wait for the fire. It is time to adapt to a changing environment by moving on. I would appreciate our state leaders mustering the courage to be honest with rural Oregon that they do not care about its plight."
Miller took particular issue with Eugene-area state Sen. James Manning, who told lawmakers in the senate last week he wasn't concerned about businesses leaving the state over rising taxes. More businesses will fill the void, he said.
"I wonder what Senator Manning would say to the 60 families without jobs tonight," Miller said in his statement. "I wonder if he would have the same tone with a family left wondering how they will pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Are their livelihoods less important than his? Unfortunately, this is what it's come to in Oregon."
Unified Business Oregon, a nonprofit that lobbies on behalf of business, said in a statement that the layoffs were the "canary in the coal mine" and would foretell other businesses moving production out of state.
"Governor Brown's big reveal today that she wants to 'invest' the Kicker Rebate into rural Oregon does nothing more than placate people who are losing their jobs, while failing to do a wholesale evaluation of how policies she is signing into law are impacting real lives in real time," said UBO director and former Tualatin mayor Lou Ogden. "If people in rural Oregon have good paying jobs, they wouldn't need government subsidies for the internet and housing. Her proposal is fool's gold when families are being laid off because of polices she and urban lawmakers support."
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