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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (June 16, 2006)
Let me say this about that
...More on G. Brown
(From Page 2)
political operator Bill Sizemore. The jury found that Sizemore’s organiza-
tions, the Oregon Taxpayers United political action committee and its educa-
tional foundation used forgery and fraud to qualify several petition initiatives
as ballot measures. Sizemore’s anti-union ballot measures caused labor or-
ganizations to spend thousands of dollars to fight them.
Valeria Molinda Meistrell was born on Aug. 23, 1942, in Hood River and
grew up in several Columbia River Gorge communities including Cascade
Locks and Mosier. After graduating from The Dalles High School, she moved
She and her husband, Everett Jack, make their home in Scappoose in Co-
lumbia County. They have a daughter, Sorena Dibble, who is following in her
mother’s footsteps by working as an office secretary at Portsmouth Middle
School in Portland; a son, Everett Jack Jr., who is an attorney in Portland; and
VAL’S LEISURE PURSUITS include sewing, knitting, crocheting and
★ ★ ★
(Continued from Last Issue)
IN THE JUNE 2, 2006 issue, this column contained the start of a Labor
Honor Roll article on George Brown, who was the first director of legislation
and political education for the Oregon AFL-CIO. Prior to the 1956 merger in
Oregon of the state organizations of the American Federation of Labor and the
Congress of Industrial Organizations, Brown had been the executive secretary-
treasurer of the CIO State Council. The last article ended by reporting that
Brown had served on a committee appointed by Portland Mayor Terry D.
Schrunk that started the ball rolling toward formation of the TriMet Transit
System as a public agency to replace a privately-owned bus line in the Rose
Legislation to create the Tri-County Metropolitan Transit District was
passed by the 1969 Oregon Legislature at the Capitol in Salem at the urging
of a team of labor lobbyists whose key members were Brown, Oregon AFL-
CIO President Edward J. Whelan and Mel Schoppert, the leader of Portland-
based Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757. ATU Local 757 represented
employees of the private bus company and continues to be the bargaining
agent for TriMet workers.
GOV. TOM McCALL signed the TriMet legislation into law and ap-
pointed George Brown to the new transit agency’s board of directors. At a
1970 retirement dinner for Brown, Gov. McCall described him as: “The
squarest-shooter that God ever made ... a man without conceit or deceit.”
Brown was the first recipient of the labor movement’s Kelley Loe Memo-
rial Award, which he received at a ceremonial dinner in 1958. The award to
Brown was given by the Oregon AFL-CIO Community Service Activities
Committee. Kelley Loe had been a lobbyist and research and education di-
rector of the AFL Oregon Federation of Labor for more than two decades. He
was a printer-editor member of Multnomah Typographical Union No. 58 and
had earlier worked for the Labor Press. Brown was presented the award in
recognition of his many years of service to the Community Chest, Community
Council, United Fund, Salvation Army, Child Guidance Clinic, Society for
Crippled Children & Adults, and for his leadership in forming the AFL CIO
Community Services Committee. That committee evolved into today’s La-
bor Community Service Agency. The Loe awards were discontinued many
LIFE WAS NOT all work and no play for Brown. He enjoyed duck hunt-
ing, fishing, poker with cronies at the Legislature and at labor conventions, and
lifting a convivial glass with friends — all the while smoking his favorite
brand of non-filtered cigarettes.
George Brown died of lung cancer at age 71 on April 17, 1974 at his home
near Milwaukie. He had returned home from an Oregon City hospital the day
before. More than 400 mourners attended his funeral. He was survived by his
wife, Alma, to whom he’d been married for 49 years; their son and a grandson.
AMONG THE TRIBUTES paid to Brown were these words by then-
State Treasurer James A. Redden, who wrote: “With George Brown’s passing,
all of Oregon, every working person and every citizen of this state, lost a
friend. He fought hard for the working person and for that he deserves the ti-
tle ‘Mr. Labor’ in Oregon. But his concern went far beyond just labor issues.
George fought hard for what was good for the State. Honesty and integrity
were his trademarks. We are going to miss him more than words can say...”
In his own distinguished career, Jim Redden has served as a state legislator,
state treasurer, state attorney general and presides as a senior federal judge in
the U.S. District Court in Portland.
JUNE 16, 2006
PDC uses tax funds to
By TOM CHAMBERLAIN and
The Portland Development Commis-
sion should be ashamed of the battle it’s
chosen: using taxpayer funds to under-
mine local family-wage jobs.
The PDC’s legal fight to find a loop-
hole in the state’s prevailing-wage law
will affect our community far beyond
the hard-hat areas, and the Portland City
Council would be doing the city a favor
by reining in the PDC and ensuring that
taxpayer funds produce community
benefits in the way they were intended.
The problem is this: The PDC spends
a quarter-billion dollars a year on con-
struction projects. Because this is tax-
payer money, the commission must
comply with several standards that meet
the community’s priorities — including
fair wages and benefits as determined by
the state’s prevailing-wage law. This law
simply assures that developers who get
public contracts pay the community’s
average market wage for a given trade.
The prevailing-wage law is a com-
mon-sense way to create family-wage
jobs, keep dollars within a community
and ensure that taxpayers get quality
work done by skilled workers. It’s a fair
and reasonable law that results in in-
creased productivity and accountability.
But instead of better prioritizing its
list of projects, the PDC has decided to
balance its budget on the backs of work-
ing families. It has used ambiguous lan-
guage in the law to circumvent it when
the commission tangos with private de-
But partnering with private interests
isn’t a valid excuse to allow the PDC to
ignore its responsibility as the steward
of taxpayer money. If the PDC succeeds
in undermining the prevailing-wage law,
here’s what Portland stands to lose:
• Return on our investment: Portland
taxpayers invest in the roads, sewers and
other infrastructure that make urban re-
newal possible. Low-ball contractors of-
ten are driven to import low-wage work-
ers from other states and countries.
These workers will not pay local taxes.
That’s not fair.
• Family-wage jobs: Portland needs
more middle-class jobs, not fewer. The
prevailing-wage law ensures that work-
ers are paid enough to contribute to so-
ciety rather than rely on public services.
It’s ironic that the city’s development
arm is leading the race to the bottom.
• Responsible business: We don’t
waive the state’s minimum wage for
businesses that say they can’t afford it.
We say they need to improve their prod-
uct, service or business model. In this
case, the PDC is saying that it wants to
build lots of cool stuff, but since it can’t
pay for it all, wages should shrink.
Rather than improve efficiency, budget
accurately (remember the aerial tram?)
and prioritize construction spending, the
PDC is trying to bankroll its billion-dol-
lar dreams on the backs of working fam-
The solution? We suggest that the
PDC decide its choices on what, when
and how to build, rather than using tax
dollars to pay lawyers, cut workers’
wages and further reduce Portland’s
middle class. Since the developer-heavy
PDC isn’t likely to do this voluntarily,
the Portland City Council should make
the PDC follow the prevailing-wage law,
and show that in Portland, public devel-
opment should reflect our community’s
(Editor’s Note: Tom Chamberlain is
the president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.
Bob Shiprack is executive secretary of
the Oregon State Building and Con-
struction Trades Council.)
Unionists need to be active in politics
To The Editor:
The first thing I noticed at the Ore-
gon Democratic Party convention June
3-5 was the absence of union members.
It became really obvious in a couple of
platform workshops that I attended.
In the labor platform workshop, a
few of us union members had to explain
not only the purpose and advantages of
card-check recognition, but also what a
card-check was. One young delegate ac-
tually thought it had something to do
with playing cards on the job. I guess
union members are so familiar with the
issue that we assume everyone under-
stands it. Well, they don’t, and it’s up to
us to explain it.
This lack of understanding of labor
issues by the general public is disturb-
ing. A future state administration, un-
friendly to unions, could take advantage
of this, and we could wind up with a
right-to-work-for-less law ... or even
something worse. We’ve got to reach out
to the public and let them know who we
are and what we do. We’ve got to let
them know that we are the good guys.
I found out in the energy and trans-
portation platform workshop that most
people don’t have a clue about the dam-
age done by deregulation in the trans-
portation industries, especially trucking
and airlines. Deregulation has led di-
rectly to the loss of wages, pensions and
benefits by workers in those industries.
But most people don’t seem to make
that connection. One connection they do
make, though, is the effect deregulation
has had on energy costs.
NORTHWEST LABOR PRESS
Labor must participate on all levels
of the Democratic Party so that our mes-
sage of providing jobs with decent
wages, hours, and working conditions
once again becomes the “hue and cry”
of the Democratic Party. A good start
would be for union members to fill the
800 open seats as precinct committeep-
ersons in their respective districts.
But all of us were rewarded for the
hard work put in on developing a plat-
form when Gov. Ted Kulongoski ad-
dressed the delegates on June 4. I’ve
heard the governor speak many times
and this was one of his best. He threw
away his notes and spoke from his heart.
He demonstrated his fighting spirit and
made all of us proud to be Democrats.
The Democrats developed a labor-
friendly platform and Gov. Kulongoski
demonstrated again that he is the man to
sell it to the voting public. We need to
re-elect Gov. Kulongoski and give him a
Democratic House instead of the ob-
structionist Republican House he has
had to contend with. If we do that, the
sky is the limit for Oregon.
Joint Council of Teamsters #37
Oregon Tradeswomen group thanks
NW Labor Press for Career Fair help
To The Editor:
Thank you so much for your support
of the 14th Annual Women in Trades
Career Fair as both a media
reporter/photographer, as well as one of
our advertising exchange partners. To-
gether, we reached 1,350 students and
540 adult female jobseekers who at-
tended this unique career fair.
As you know, the fair is produced by
Oregon Tradeswomen, with assistance
from a wide range of industry stake-
holders. Its $110,000 budget is provided
100 percent from industry supporters.
Donations and in-kind support, such as
the advertising exchange arrangement
with the Northwest Labor Press, cover
the costs of producing the event, includ-
ing coordinating school attendance,
funding student transportation, printing
posters and brochures, extensive volun-
teer recruitment, and much more.
Through our advertising and media
efforts you have helped us reach a tar-
geted recruitment of female jobseekers.
We will be placing these strong candi-
dates into entry-level positions, accept-
ing them into our Pathways to Success
pre-apprenticeship program, and sup-
porting them as they embark into ap-
prenticeships and professional careers.
Thank you again for being part of the
Women in Trades Career Fair.
Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.