Spokane Valley businesses were breathing a sigh of relief this week after Steelworkers ended their eightday strike against Kaiser.
Although the strike was resolved before most businesses saw any effect, most were worried about what a long-term strike could mean.
“We’re glad it’s over,” said Bob Pessein, manager of Excell Foods on East Trent, near Kaiser’s mill.
The store didn’t see a downturn in business during the strike, he said, “but if it had gone another week, that’s another story.”
Bruce McKinley, owner of Bonanza Bargains grocery store on Trent, said, “A lot of people that live around us work there. I’m sure if they were out of work, our business would go down a little. We’re real happy they resolved things.”
With the strike now in the past, one local business leader suggested that keeping Kaiser in the Valley should become a priority.
“The business community needs to do anything we can to enable Kaiser to maintain their operations in our area,” said Ray Murphy, executive director of the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The same kind of effort to keep the Fairchild Air Force Base open, he said, ought to be used to retain Kaiser. “I have heard Kaiser’s alternatives are like: ‘Let’s go to Argentina because of the costs and the problems.”’
“If they don’t stay in business, we don’t have those workers,” Murphy said. “We don’t have that tax base.”