Nearly 100 Marion County union workers and supporters held a “cash mob” event on Saturday, June 30, in downtown Salem to show what their collective buying power means to the local economy. A cash mob is a group of people that shows up at local businesses to spend money. SEIU 503/MCEA members pledged to spend more than $4,000 that day.
Rep. Betty Komp (D-Woodburn) and Janet Henry, owner of ”nosh,” a downtown Salem restaurant, spoke at the event, which kicked off at the Marion County Courthouse. SEIU 503/MCEA members then visited downtown businesses to buy items and distribute information about the impact union wages have on the local economy.
“We want to do everything we can to support our local businesses,” said Sara Fillion, a health educator for Marion County. “But shrinking middle-class wages means we have less to spend on local goods and services.”
Research shows that money spent at local businesses is reinvested in the local economy at three times the rate of money spent at corporate chain stores. Further, every $1,000 spent on wages locally sends an additional $1,213 of economic impact rippling through the economy, increasing demand that creates and maintains local jobs.
SEIU 503/MCEA members have been bargaining with Marion County on their current two-year contract, which expired June 30. Several members presented a symbolic $3.5-million check to the commissioners on June 20 to illustrate how much pay and benefit cuts to union workers have contributed to the county’s bottom line over the past two years.
SEIU 503/MCEA represents more than 700 of Marion County’s 1,300 employees.