Sponsored by Oregon Business

Jeff Merkley hits the road

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 

0612 TheRoad 02
Touring Barhyte Specialty Foods with cofounder Jan Barhyte.

Fresh from an early morning jog alongside the Umatilla River, Merkley kicks off the day in Pendleton with a meeting at Kinro, an RV window and frame supplier. In the words of plant manager Eric Wiese, the subsidiary of New York-based Drew Industries makes “cheap un-insulated windows” and relocated from California in part because of Oregon’s less stringent overtime laws.

“Is there anything that isn’t working, nothing that keeps you up at night?” Merkley asks. Poor attendance on the part of the plant’s 55 employees, most of whom earn just a little over minimum wage, Wiese responds.

None of this seems particularly aligned with Merkley’s legislative priorities. His “America Over a Barrel” plan for oil independence reflects a policy focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency. A week earlier at Mercer Windows, Merkley praised the company’s “double role” as a domestic manufacturer and energy efficiency innovator and assured David Mercer he was working to advance green product lines such as high-efficiency windows by proposing Home Star and Building Star energy retrofit measures.

But being a senator is nothing if not an intricate dance. Merkley, who likes to wax nostalgic about his working class background — “I’m one of the few senators who has welded things” — is careful to praise Kinro’s 40-hour-a-week jobs along with paid vacation and health care. Located next to Keystone RV, Kinro is also helping grow a local supply chain, the senator notes. “I think that’s terrific.”

A member of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, Merkley has identified several priorities to boost manufacturing: supporting workforce and education, helping businesses access capital, incentivizing domestic manufacturing, and “creating a level playing field” by enforcing fair trade practices by other countries. Some of those efforts have translated into policy.

In 2010, Congress passed the Small Business Lending Fund that assists community banks in lending to local businesses, legislation that Merkley introduced. He also introduced the Volcker Rule, part of the 2010 Wall Street reform legislation that protects family and business lending by creating a “firewall” against the high-risk, hedge-fund style investing that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

And in 2011 he achieved a small victory when he introduced a bill that would force the U.S. Trade Representative to take action if any member of the World Trade Organization failed to disclose subsidies. In response, the USTR filed the first-ever counter notification against China and India, documenting more than 200 different Chinese subsidies alone.

“It’s a fascinating document,” says Merkley, who has made enforcement against China’s “four-tier industrial policy” — low environmental standards, currency manipulation, direct government subsidies, and policies that support theft of intellectual property — a key part of his agenda.

“These strategies have been devastating to American manufacturers,” says Merkley. “But they have not been discussed and are not understood in our country, and they need to be.”

 



 

Comments   

 
Boyd Percy
-1 #1 RE: Jeff Merkley hits the roadBoyd Percy 2012-05-29 18:50:22
How about weaning us from the West Coast fuel prices?
Stop skyrocketing energy costs?
Cut the red tape and accompanying paperwork?
Get the government out of the health care business?
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Carl Mullan
0 #2 In support of local businessCarl Mullan 2012-06-11 19:28:37
"Made in Oregon Tour"

I like what I'm hearing.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Opening soon: 3 of the coolest new breweries in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, March 19, 2015
brewthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are 278 companies licensed to operate as brewery, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Here are three new beer-making hubs slated to open soon.


Read more...

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Thy neighbor's house

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Vacasa may lack the name recognition of Airbnb. But not for long.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

Cache and Curry

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Power Lunch at Swagat in Hillsboro.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS