The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is working hard to defeat Amendment 70, which would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. Part of its opposition involves chamber president Diane Schwenke running TV ads against the measure in which the chamber claims “90,000 Colorado jobs” would be lost if the measure passes.
Who is “Dr. Fruits”?
The chamber’s “90,000-jobs-lost” figure comes from “Eric Fruits,” of “Economics International Corps.” Fruits is a part time economic consultant who works out of his home and also works part time as an adjunct professor at Portland State University (PSU).
Adjunct professors, also called “contingent professors,” are not tenured. They are typically low-paid, part-time contract workers who rank below “assistant” and “associate” professors. Adjuncts typically don’t receive any health insurance or other benefits through their workplace and are often paid less than pet sitters.
There are additional hints that Mr. Fruits might not be the esteemed economic expert the chamber would like Grand Junctionites to believe he is.
A website called RateMyProfessors.com shows Mr. Fruits has earned an overall rating from students at PSU of 3.3 out of a possible 5.0.
Here are some student reviews of Mr. Fruits, which indicate some uncertainty about whether he is an economist or an urban studies professor:
–“Professor Fruits is egotistical and sarcastic. He tries too hard to be interesting but ends up being just plain annoying. Grades are based on only two tests, which can have tricky questions.”
–“Good: Fruits is entertaining, grades fairly, and has interactive lectures. Bad: is an Urban Studies professor and not an Economics professor, so often got econ basics a little wrong (or kind of scoffed at them).”
–“Doesn’t prep the students well enough for his exams.Too egotistical and interjects his political views in class.”
–“Dr. Fruits is a very animated and enthusiastic lecturer. Exams are somewhat difficult but if you read the questions carefully and have a grasp on basic economic concepts they are tolerable. He is an economist (despite what posts indicate otherwise) and successfully integrates his expertise into the study of urban areas. Interesting class.”
Oh, and Mr. Fruits also works as an Uber driver on the side:
One must wonder why the chamber had to go all the way out of state to find a hack — um, I mean consultant — who would come up with a job-loss figure that would fit with the doom-and-gloom paradigm they are projecting in their anti-Amendment 70 ads. One also has to wonder why the chamber chose to ignore a flood of recent research done in hundreds of jurisdictions that shows an increase in the minimum wage doesn’t cause massive job losses and can actually boost the local economy, and why Ms. Schwenke ignored over 600 economists, including seven nobel prize winners who said:
“…the weight of evidence now show[s] that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”
Maybe there aren’t any economists in Colorado who agree with Diane Schwenke.
And besides, taking its own business out of the state is often how the G.J. chamber prefers to do its business.