Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke has been appearing on TV in ads opposing Amendment 70, which would increase in Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. The western slope has among the lowest per capita income in the state (pdf), and among the highest rates of homelessness, poverty, suicide and hunger. The ads reinforce the chamber’s longstanding reputation of opposing the best interests of area workers and their families, and continues its long-standing record of lobbying to keep area wages extraordinarily low compared to the rest of the state. The ads also reinforce the chamber’s image as an elite club that lobbies for wealthy business owners and out-of-state member corporations, while neglecting the needs of the rest of the community.
To justify it’s opposition to the minimum wage increase, the chamber cites a single source: a pay-for-play economic consultant named Eric Fruits, who works out of his house in Portland, Oregon. Fruits specializes in “litigation support” for businesses, which means he hires himself out to say whatever his paymasters need him to say, just as independent scientists did for the tobacco industry in the 1970s-1990s. Fruits says the Colorado minimum wage increase will lead to the loss of 90,000 jobs, but His conclusion contradicts the the United States Department of Labor, which busts the myth that increasing the minimum wage causes massive losses of jobs. It also contradicts the conclusions of over 600 economists and 7 Nobel prize winners in economics.
Diane Schwenke herself makes $137,000/year as president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber, yet she lobbies to assure western slope workers and their families continue to hover around the poverty line and never see any increases in their wages.