Archive for April 18th, 2010

by jhwygirl

Well, boy – where to begin with this one (meaning I’m trying to quell the rant that lurks within)?

Nestled between what really was a big news week here in Missoula was The Indy’s Matthew Frank with an article exposing all the ugly details of DirecTV call center’s union busting activities.

And God bless Matt Frank – he actually does get to mentioning what I’m about to elaborate on below.

DirecTV is a tenant of Missoula County, leasing a building that was built for them by the county, using a combination of funding that included a low-cost 25-year loan from the state and a 20-year TIF district created by the county. Baucus also secured at least a half million more for the deal, for training.

DirecTV only has a 10-year lease. The package of incentives offered to them for 800 (anyone check and see if they’re actually employing that many) $9.50/hour jobs equaled an amount equivalent to $22,500 per year in tax subsidies for every $19,750/year job.

Looking back and re-reading those old Rob Struckman articles in the Missoulian – he was laying it all out there. Apparently, people were OK with this.

Unemployment at the time? 3.5% (considered healthy). Dick King, head of Missoula Area Economic Development – one of the many brokers of the deal (which included Schweitzer and Baucus) – said at the time “Our issue is not unemployment but underemployment. We need to get the right company to push up from the bottom. I think this is it.”

I wonder how much money DirecTV has sucked off in training subsidies ($4,000 per new employee)? Training subsidies that came via both federal and state dollars?

DirecTV is half-way through their 10-year lease…will they be recommitting? Or will taxpayers be left holding the bag on those loan repayments that stretch 10 and 15 years past their current lease?

I guess what I’m saying is don’t expect the county or MAEDC or the Governor or Baucus to be stepping up and speaking out against DirecTV’s anti-labor activities. Activities that are being done under a government tax dollar subsidized roof. They’re going to want that tenant around, otherwise, a whole bunch of taxpayers will be left holding the bag for a 34-acre facility.

On the other hand, with all the tech infrastructure that went into getting that building in there, perhaps its a good time to shop around for a new tenant and get someone lined up for when DirecTV’s lease expires. Frankly – with subsidy that is more than what an employee is actually costing them, I wouldn’t be banking on them sticking around – I’d be banking on them shopping around for another sweetheart tax-subsidy rich deal like the one they got here.

Talk about unsustainable!

DirecTV was a bad deal as it was. With low-wage jobs – and so many of ’em – they place more of a strain on our essential housing situation than they do to help it. If we’re going to give away subsidies, it should be for union-wage earning jobs or high tech jobs that allow people to live a little more than hand-to-mouth on $9.50/hour.

Addendum: Be sure to read the comments. DirecTV employees have a website – S.T.A.N.D., standing for Satellite Techs Allied for a New Direction. Another comment talks about how DirecTV is apparently going through employees. You mean despite (or is it because of) all that government subsidized $4,000/per new employee training, they’re having problems keeping good employees?

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