"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Micron scramble

Micron Technology

Micron technology

Possibly nowhere else in the Northwest would a quarterly stock report for a single corporation carry such significance, or be (legitimate) cause for so many major news stories. Even when the corporation isn’t talking to the main news outlet in the area.

So it is with Micron Technology and Boise; the firm is headquartered at Boise and employs somewhere around 10,000 people in the area (with the employment of many more connected to those thousands). A drop in prices for computer memory left Micron with a $225 million loss in the last quarter, a loss evidently considered serious enough to require a substantive response to Wall Street. CEO Steve Appleton responded, in a lesser way by stepping down from the corporate presidency (a lesser position, and ultimately probably an unimportant move) and in a bigger way by promising serious employment cutbacks.

The Associated Press reported that “Micron did not say how many of its 22,000 workers will be laid off, but reductions will likely affect Idaho employees as the company moves production closer to customers in Asia, where it does more than 70 percent of its business. Spokesman Dan Francisco said some of the job cuts will affect Micron facilities near Boise . . .”

Pay attention to the phrase “moves production closer to constomers in Asia”; it seems likely to become a phrase familiar to Boiseans in the months and years ahead. Another instance, from a stock analyst report after the quarterly announcement: “Recent checks indicate that Micron Technology has achieved a significant rebound in Asia with its new DRAM 78nm process.”

Through all of this, Micron is telling Boise relatively little. The Idaho Statesman reports that it is getting reports from Micron workers about layoffs, with estimates running from 500 on the low side to 2,000 on the higher, but not a word from the corporation. And Micron has officially refused to speak to the Statesman for most of a year. The paper said Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter was informed that layoffs were coming, but without any indication of how large they would be.

An editorial in the Statesman today argued, “We still don’t know how many people will lose their jobs. We need answers to calculate the immediate and long-term impact to our state, our economy and our people. Micron, it’s time to talk.”

Prepare for a rocky ride.

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