The GUARDIAN has finally been forced to enter the Micron debate. Here are a couple of pieces from readers. We welcome comments–especially from Micron refugees. As usual, names are protected to protect the victims.
By BOB BLURTON
Micron has been pretty mum to the media on the layoffs issue, prompting speculation among many of us.
This issue grabbed so much attention that Governor Butch left his undisclosed location and made a rare public appearance. It was so important that the Idaho Department of Labor spokesman made elaborate public statements about being ready to help Micron’s layoff victims.
Yet, it is so secret that laid-off employees must sign confidentiality agreements or risk losing their lead parachute benefits package, and the company won’t elaborate on the statement by Steve Appleton about “lower levels of employment.”
Micron currently employs about 10,000 employees in Boise. It appears they are removing production from Boise and leaving R & D. The Research & Development folks are a small part of Micron Boise.
If Micron is eventually shuttering the production facility, the layoffs may well be more like 8,000 or more employees. Contrary to the local realty spokesperson, these were relatively high paying jobs.
Micron may be allowing the top movers and shakers in Boise to divest themselves of real estate, restaurants and luxury good holdings in the local area before the economic tsunami hits.
Boise economist John Church recently spoke on the economic impact. He said, “Today, 10 percent of their work force here, another 1,100- or 1,300-job cutback, probably wouldn’t be that big a deal to the Boise economy. It’s growing very rapidly, so it probably would absorb that pretty readily,” Church said. “On the other hand, if it were to be 20 percent or more, that’s troublesome.”
It should be noted that Micron has been sucking about 1.6 million gallons a day from our aquifer for cooling and diluting acid so they can dispose of it. It seems an unlikely coincidence that farmers who were about to have their water shut off in the Snake River Valley are suddenly making some last minute deal.
Another unlikely coincidence is all the desert land in far-east Boise that is, owned by current and former Micron board members. So… Micron leaves, lowering their daily usage of 1.6 million gallons of water from our aquifer. With a new found “water supply” (Micron’s former use), at least one stumbling block to development would be eliminated.
I lived in Orange County California in the late 1980’s when Boeing laid off 20,000 employees. The resulting economic shockwaves flattened the local economy for 10 years. Residents could not sell their home for any price, and jobs got very scarce. The Orange County Basin had a population that makes the Treasure Valley look like a two horse town.
If Micron cuts and runs, the economic impact will be huge. Something about the percentage of one’s eggs in a basket comes to mind…
With the current layoffs at Micron, a discussion of the tax breaks given to them by local government would be interesting.
There seems to be a lot of local sentiment that homeowners are footing
the bill for property tax breaks given to Micron to keep them operating,
and providing jobs, in Boise. Those deals obviously haven’t worked.
I heard they get an exemption for any property value over $800 million. I don’t believe Micron’s site is valued over that number at this time. I’d love to hear what any educated parties have to say about this topic.
My gut feeling is that current layoffs are just the beginning of a larger reduction of their local workforce that will take place over the next year or two. That will have huge ramifications for the valley.
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