Forest Grove's Stimson Lumber CEO urges employee boycott
Less than a month after laying off dozens of workers at his Forest Grove sawmill, Stimson Lumber CEO Andrew Miller is asking his employees across the state to boycott businesses which have supported a controversial cap-and-trade bill, which died in Salem this week.
Miller, a prominent conservative political donor, released a statement Wednesday, June 26, urging all Stimson employees and contractors to boycott businesses that publicly supported House Bill 2020, which would have capped most of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. Polluters in the state would purchase "credits" to offset the greenhouse gases they emit.
The bill was highly controversial and was opposed by many in the timber industry, including Stimson.
Republican senators walked out of the Capitol last week over the bill, denying the largely Democratic-run Oregon Senate a quorum to conduct business.
Miller said his employees should boycott the members of Oregon Business for Climate, a group of nearly 100 local companies that have signed on to support the cap-and-trade bill. The bill includes corporate giants like Skanska, Nike, Uber and Adidas.
"Many of them won't feel this new carbon tax because they make their products in third-world countries and won't be subject to House Bill 2020," Miller said. "It's hypocritical."
Miller's statement comes one day after Senate President Peter Courntey, D-Salem, announced that the current form of the bill did not have enough votes to pass the Senate. The announcement was meant to calm the nerves of Republican senators so the Senate could finish its work before its June 30 deadline. As of Wednesday afternoon, no Republican Senators have returned to Salem.
Miller said HB2020 would be a "death knell" for many rural communities. Miller contends that the bill would impose taxes on Oregonians who can't afford them and would have a minimal impact on combating climate change.
Miller credits a group called Timber Unity for "mobilizing quickly and rallying tens of thousands of Oregonians to stand up and fight for their livelihoods."
According to the Oregon Secretary of State's office, Miller is the director of the Timber Unity Political Action Committee
In his statement, Stimson took issue with The Oregonian newspaper's columnist Steve Duin, who wrote June 25 that while Republicans had won the fight over HB2020, voters should remember these actions when Repbulican Senators run for re-election.
"We know how this ends," Duin wrote. "The Democrats will cave. The Republicans will slip back across the border and buy a round for the lumberjacks in the dusty neighborhood saloon. And the voters? They'll remember. They'll adjust. They'll have their revenge."
Miller took personal offense to Duin's column, writing that he would rather "share a beer with a 'lumberjack in the dusty neighborhood saloon' any day of the week than hang around with elitist city-dwellers who can't grasp where their toilet paper and organic fruits and vegetables originate from."
This isn't the first time this year Stimson has criticized Salem politics. He announced last month that Stimson Lumber, one of the oldest businesses in Washington County, would lay off 20% of its workforce, blaming the layoffs on Oregon's "poor business environment."
Miller said the layoffs were due to a series of recent bills in the Oregon legislature which he said would make it difficult to do business, including HB2020 and a $1 billion-per-year tax on businesses to provide better funding for schools.
Stimson also operates in Tillamook and Clatskanie. The Forest Grove mill has been in operation since 1933.
By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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