G.J. Chamber Runs TV Ads Opposing Increase in Colorado’s Minimum Wage

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber quotes a statistic by Erc Fruits, a freelance, pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon, producing reports that meet the needs of his paymasters

Diane Schwenke of the Grand Junction Chamber cites a statistic produced by “Eric Fruits,” a pay-for-play economic consultant who works out of his home in Portland, Oregon producing economic reports that bolster the positions of his big-business paymasters. Fruits’ claim directly contradicts the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the actual effects of increases in the minimum wage.

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.


"Keep Colorado Working" consists mostly of other chambers of commerce

“Keep Colorado Working,” the coalition behind the ads trying to tank the minimum wage increase, consists mostly of other chambers of commerce

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.

  4 comments for “G.J. Chamber Runs TV Ads Opposing Increase in Colorado’s Minimum Wage

  1. $12 an hour is not a living wage — it is only another step to making hard working people from having to access public programs to keep them out of poverty. Only once the minimum wage is sufficiently high to make it possible for working people to pay for adequate housing, healthcare and nutrition will they be self-sufficient.

  2. Schwenke is the highest paid satellite Chamber of Commerce director in the state. As long as she and others of her ilk, past and present County Commissioners, continue to take this county down their path of righteousness. The subsequent musical chairs of the leadership within the county is an old scratchy recording on an eight-track…overused and badly maintained.

  3. If you get the chance, watch the video where the Yes Men take on the US Camber, and confoundingly, trickily win. Our situation is not so funny, and I think that’s a clue; we need to turn parts of it to humor. Do we know how much t.v. time costs at this level? I have an actual story boarded response to her ad that will at least stimulate those who have fought the Chamber before. Toady’s Buzzword: “Cheap Labor Conservative.”

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