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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (July 6, 2006)
Let me say this about that
—By Gene Klare
Fame for Herb Waits
HERB WAITS JR., 83, a retired member of Tualatin-based United As-
sociation of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290, steps into Labor’s Hall of
Fame in this issue of the Northwest Labor Press. The NW Oregon Labor
Retirees Council, sponsor of the Labor Hall of Fame, conferred the honor on
Waits by a door-opening vote at a meeting in the NW Oregon Labor Coun-
cil boardroom in the Scandia Building at 1125 SW Madison St. in Portland.
The Retirees Council inaugurated the
Hall of Fame in 1997 to bestow recognition
on retired unionists for their contributions
to their unions and to the broader labor
movement. John Klein of the Teamsters is
president of the Retirees Council, and
Harold King of the Western Pulp and Pa-
per Workers is secretary-treasurer.
HERBERT WILLIAM WAITS JR.
was born on Sept. 15, 1922 in Klamath
Falls in Southern Oregon. His father, Herb
Waits Sr., was a skilled pipe trades crafts-
man who in 1929 was elected as the busi-
ness agent of UA Plumbers and Steamfit-
ters Local 191 and also was elected to the
same office in the Klamath Falls Building
Trades Council. The Great Depression of
the 1930s, which caused widespread and
massive unemployment, resulted in a ces-
sation of the two labor organizations headed by Herb Waits Sr. But in 1939,
as economic conditions began improving, Herb Sr. was able to restart Local
191 and the Building Trades Council. He also organized UA Local 418 in
Medford. Herb Sr. served as business agent of Local 191 until illness forced
him to retire in 1952.
Herb Waits Jr. joined the United Association early in World War II on
June 30, 1942, when he began working as a steamfitter in the Northern Cal-
ifornia city of Redding, not too far from his hometown in Southern Oregon.
However, within a year he was training in a U.S. Army Combat Engineers
battalion, the Army’s construction counterpart of the Navy’s Seabees.
AS THE WAR in Europe was winding down in 1945, the Combat Engi-
neers unit in which Waits was serving was dispatched to Reims, France, to re-
build a church damaged by the ravages of war. The Army unit’s next assign-
ment took Waits to the Philippines in the South Pacific, where war with the
Japanese was still ongoing. After Japan surrendered in August 1945, Waits’
duties took him to Osaka, Japan. After WWII, Waits returned to Klamath
Falls but stayed in the Army Reserve. Following the start of the Korean War
in 1950, Waits was recalled to active duty and sent to a boatyard at Port
Townsend, Washington, to repair military vessels.
When he was honorably discharged, he was wearing the five stripes of a
technical sergeant, one grade below the six stripes of a master sergeant.
Herb Waits Jr. succeeded his father as business agent of Local 191 in 1952.
The job’s title was later changed to business manager. In that job, Waits Jr.
handled all the duties involved in running a local union. He organized new
members, negotiated and enforced the union’s labor contracts with employ-
ers and served as a trustee on health and welfare and pension trust funds,
plus other duties. He served on the executive board of the Oregon State
Building and Construction Trades Council and was the council’s represen-
tative in Southern Oregon. He was president of the Central Labor Council at
Klamath Falls, which covered Klamath and Lake counties. He also held the
presidency of the Oregon State Pipe Trades Association.
AFTER THE MERGER that produced UA Plumbers and Steamfitters
Portland-based Carpenters Industrial
Council formed by national mergers
The Portland-based Western Council
of Industrial Workers has merged with
three other councils to form the national
Carpenters Industrial Council.
The name change was effective July
1. The founding convention of the or-
ganization — which consolidates the
Southern Council of Industrial Workers
in Mississippi, the Carpenters East
Coast Industrial Council in Marion, Vir-
ginia, and the Midwestern Council of
Industrial Workers in Oshkosh, Wiscon-
sin — is set for May 17-24, 2007.
The council is a division of the
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and
Joiners, an affiliate of the Change to Win
The newly consolidated council will
be headquartered in Portland at 12788
SE Stark St., and Mike Pieti, executive
secretary of the former Western Coun-
cil, will serve in that capacity for the
“The national Carpenters Industrial
Council is being formed with a focus on
structuring a union that can withstand
and meet challenges of the future,” said
Pieti. The building blocks, he said, are a
“dynamic organizing program to bring
union representation to more workers in
our industry sectors whether it’s lumber,
panel products, cabinets, windows or
The Carpenters Industrial Council
will represent approximately 26,000
workers in 15 states.
The Western Council of Industrial
Workers was chartered in 1985. Its pred-
ecessor was the Lumber Production and
Industrial Workers, which was chartered
in 1937. The Southern Council of In-
dustrial Workers was chartered in 1967
and represented 4,400 workers. The
Carpenters East Coast Industrial Coun-
cil was chartered in 1996 with the
merger of the Mid-Eastern and Mid-At-
lantic councils and represented 3,000
workers in seven states. And the Mid-
western Council was chartered in 2002
with the merging of the Midwestern In-
dustrial Council and the Great Lakes
Regional Council. It has more than
Court reinstates retiree benefits at Rexam
A California District Court gave a
group of Rexam retirees a major victory
when it ordered Rexam, the giant con-
sumer packaging and beverage can
manufacturer, to reinstate retiree med-
ical and prescription drug benefits that
Rexam unilaterally terminated effective
Jan. 1, 2006.
Rexam is one of many corporations
across America pushing to drop retiree
The court’s decision applies to Ma-
chinist Union retirees from now shut-
tered can plants in Vancouver and Kent,
Washington. The Vancouver plant was
represented by Local Lodge 1374, an af-
filiate of Machinists District Lodge 24.
The Vancouver plant operated as the
National Can Company, then changed
to American National Can in 1989 fol-
lowing a buyout. American National
was purchased by Silgan Can in 1996
and the plant was shut down in 1999.
Rexam acquired American National
Can in 2000. Most of the retired Ma-
chinists Union members were covered
under the American National Can retiree
insurance plan, which was assumed by
Silgan and later by Rexam.
The court cited language in the union
contracts and benefit plan documents
that promised retirees lifetime coverage.
District Court Judge Claudia Wilken
granted a request for a preliminary in-
junction against Rexam, ordered the
company to “reinstate all medical and
prescription drug benefit plans provided
before Jan. 1, 2006” and declared
“Rexam is also enjoined from terminat-
ing the health benefits of any class mem-
ber receiving or entitled to receive bene-
fits under these plans.”
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Cynthia F. Newton
Tip of the week: In most cases, if you are found disabled
by Social Security you can collect back benefits starting one
year before the date of your application.
We represent people on all types of injury and disease related claims.
n Workers’ Compensation
n Construction Injuries
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n Death Claims
n Social Security Disability
We provide straight answers at no cost on any of the above areas of law.
CALL US or VISIT OUR WEB SITE
( 503) 228-5222
(Turn to Page 11)
NORTHWEST LABOR PRESS
JULY 7, 2006