Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 6 No. 3 | Fall 1984 (Seattle) /// Issue of 24 /// Master# 57 of 73

could hold all operating state funds as well as a percentage of state worker pension funds. The state of North Dakota has successfully operated a state bank for over 60 years. The governor of North Dakota has maintained that the bank has been an important factor in the strength of the state’s economy over the years. The Bank of North Dakota has been consistently profitable for the state, returning money to the general fund in almost every year. Perhaps, most importantly, the Washington bank would be directed to encourage the development of community development finance corporations (CDFC’s),. Communities which organize corporations for the purposes of locally- controlled development, such as Shoalwater Jobs in Pacific County, could receive loans and grants from the bank. 4. ASSISTANCE TO DEPRE SSED RURAL AREAS To combat the serious unemployment in the ten rural counties dependent on the timber industry, the state needs a program directed to the needs of those areas. In 1982, the Minnesota legislature approved a $10 million public works program for the region in Northern Minnesota devastated by the decline of the iron ore and timber industries. The program makes direct wage payment to loggers and miners who have exhausteddheir unemployment benefits. It also provides additional funds for regional economic development, including the development of peat and biomass industries. The public works program was initially financed from an iron ore tax. A similar approach might be undertaken in Washington: the state timber tax which was recently reduced from 6.5% to 5.0% under the pretext of “creating jobs” could be returned to 6.5%. Revenues generated from the additional 1.5% could be targeted to hiring the unemployed in the timber counties in reforestation and other economic development efforts. 5. ENCOURAGE CONVER SION OF MILITARY INDUSTRIES TO PEACEFUL AND STABLE PRODUCTION One enduring problem in Washington has been the instability of the aerospace industry. Frequent layoffs, created by changes in federal policies, have had damaging effects on the state of Washington. A substantial portion of Boeing’s work is its military contracts. Unfortunately, many of these federal policies have' not been in the public’s best interests. Beyond the fact that they have made employment in Washington unstable, their subsidy of Boeing’s nuclear missile production contributes to the instability of the entire world. For these reasons, it is imperative that we develop a system of tax incentives and penalties which will push Boeing in the direction of diversification away from military programs and towards more stable production. For example, government incentives for the production of mass transit, wind and solar energy could be promoted. Before Reagan’s hair-raising military budget was imposed, Boeing was involved in building just these kinds of projects — mass transit, wind and solar energy. In fact, it built the Morgantown, West Virginia light-rail system as well as subway cars for both Boston’s and San Francisco’s rail systems. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be encouraging conversion of our state economy away from lethal weapons production towards more socially useful production. Job creation should be and can be directed towards meeting the needs of our communities rather than assisting in their destruction. This is not to underestimate the amount of work needed to mount a successful conversion campaign. Several organizations are presently doing educational work around these issues. Seattle community activist Wayne Grytting has organized a new community peace group, The Day Before, which has been organizing a movement promoting this type of industrial conversion. Their work has included specific legislation (HB 1601) which would encourage peace conversion. 6. SUPPORT WORKER- OWNED BUSINESSES One of the most serious problems facing the state has been plant closures. Lack of access to capital and high interest rates led to the closure of over 100 plants in Washington between 1979 and 1983. One solution to this problem would be to provide finance capital and technical assistance to workers who wish to buy out their plant. Illinois State Represtentative Yvette Younge, hoping to “subsidize employment rather than unemployment," sponsored a bill that was passed and signed by Republican Governor James R. Thomson to establish an “Employee-Owned Enterprise Council.” The council can loan employees up to 50% of the capital needed to purchase their firm in the event of a shutdown. The loan is to be repaid over a 13-year period, but it is possible to have repayment deferred for up to three years. The law also gives state technical assistance to worker-owned enterprises. California’s Republican Governor Deuk- mejian, recently signed a bill which goes further than the Illinois law. The California bill also provides unemployment benefits to workers involved in employee-owner- ship negotiations and encourages democratic structure of such firms by requiring at least 60% worker ownership and worker stock voting rights. 7. FAIR WAGES AND ACCESS TO JOBS The disproportionate numbers of women and people of color employed in our state’s low-wage jobs demonstrates that employment discrimination is an entrenched problem. Implementation of comparable worth policies — equal pay for jobs requiring comparable skill, responsibility and experience — is critical to ensure equitable wages and a fair economy. The state should take the lead in developing legislation to implement pay equity in the private sector as well as the public sector. The state can also develop a comprehensive approach to affirmative action in employment and effective job training and re-training programs. Legislation prohibiting pay discrimination on the basis of sex, race, disability, sexual preference and age must be strictly enforced and strengthened if necessary. THE WRAP These are some of the things that could be done to increase employment and the standard of living in Washington. But nothing will occur unless those who are hurt by the current economic restructuring can unite together to demand a fair and equitable set of economic priorities for the state. New coalitions representing the majority of people in the state — labor, small business, farmers, women, people of color, the unemployed, senior citizens, consumers and environmentalists — could mobilize around such demands. Few politicians would be willing to run against both jobs and community initiative. Coalitions of this sort are being built, community organizations are addressing these issues, and people in this state are fighting back. Christina Hogner and Al Thierry have been working hard to help Shoalwater Jobs succeed in Raymond. Ellen Christensen and Lucy Serenil are among many women involved in a new project in Seattle — the Women’s Economic Rights Coalition (WERC); Katalina Montero is working as WERC’s new director. They all share a common concern about the economic hardships expereinced in their communitites — and the energy to do something about it. Rich Nafziger is a Seattle economist and a former senior associate with Tanzer Economics in New York City. Faith Conlon is a community activist researching the feminization of poverty and a founder of the Women's Economic Rights Coalition. 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