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4/07/2005

Community Expresses Outrage

Community Expresses Outrage of Economic Development Director’s Rejection of 500 Union Jobs

Decision Costs Region Millions

Members of the Madisonville, KY, community met Tuesday night to discuss Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Danny Koon’s decision to turn away a company that would have supplied 500 new jobs to the region because the business’s employees were represented by a union.

Over 100 people packed the Holy Temple Church in Christ showing their disapproval of Koon’s decision that was reported by the Henderson Gleaner in October 2004. The article quotes Koon as boasting that he turned away a company that had the potential of supplying 500 new jobs to the region because the business had a contract with the United Auto Workers. According to the article, Koon stated that the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation does not, “look at any companies that have representation with a bargaining group.”

"Koon's decision hurts us all, especially our children,” said Madisonville resident Rodney Miller. “Union jobs are what this community needs. Our children shouldn't have to work low paying jobs and shouldn't have to move away to find work. Our kids deserve good paying jobs like the ones Koon's turned away.”

Pastor Raymond Marion of the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ and NAACP Madisonville chapter president presented data that detailed just how much Koon’s decision cost the Madisonville region.

“Five hundred jobs at $15 per hour represents $15.6 million dollars in wages and each industrial job anchors 4.2 other jobs in the economy,” said Bishop Marion. “That equals 2,100 jobs at $10 an hour each which equals $43.7 million dollars. When you calculate in fringe benefits at 25% for the $15 per hour it raises the wage and benefits package to $20 per hour” Marion said.

Marion’s calculations come from the research department of the United Auto Workers and the Economic Policy Institute. In addition to higher wages, studies demonstrate that unions have been able to preserve the most important benefits for their members, while non-union workers have not been able to withstand the huge employer push to cut coverage and shift costs on to employees. Union workers are far more likely to be covered by health care and retirement benefits than nonunion workers and far less likely to be forced to contribute to the cost of those plans.

“All of this represents $59.3 million annually that could have come in to the Madisonville community, as well as 2,600 jobs,” Marion said. “Koon’s decision cost the community a lot economically - $59.3 million per year to be exact.”

Hopkins County Magistrate Coletta Wheeler assured the community that Koon’s actions did not reflect all of Madisonville and Hopkins County officials and deeply regrets Koon’s remarks.

"I have the highest respect for unions. Without the right to organize where would we be?" Wheeler said.

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