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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 17, 2006)
Let me say this about that
—By Gene Klare
Applause for Allen
S. Eugene Allen was the youngest editor of the Labor Press. When he was
appointed to the job of editor on March 3, 1939, he was a 24-year-old busi-
ness agent for Portland Teamsters Local 255 and was a 1936 graduate of the
University of Oregon at Eugene where he majored in economics.
Allen is being profiled in this issue of
the newspaper he once edited because
it’s time to spotlight him for the Labor
Honor Roll. The Labor Press started the
Labor Honor Roll to posthumously
salute labor figures of bygone years. The
Labor Hall of Fame sponsored by the
Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees
Council provides recognition to retired
unionists who are still living.
GENE ALLEN took over as the ed-
itor and manager of the then-weekly
Oregon Labor Press as the successor to
C.M. Rynerson, who had been the editor
and manager for more than 25 years.
Rynerson, a printer and an editor, was a
member of Multnomah Typographical
Union No. 58. He left the Labor Press in
1939 to accept an appointment by Gov.
Charles Sprague to the Oregon State In-
dustrial Accident Commission which
was in charge of the workers’ compensation insurance system.
Allen was born in Bisbee, Arizona, but grew up in Oregon. His father,
C.A. Allen, was elected a Deschutes County judge, serving in Bend, the
county seat, in a job that later was renamed county commissioner.
AFTER GRADUATING from the U of O in the Great Depression, Allen
found a job in the Portland parts warehouse of the Allis-Chalmers tractor and
farm equipment company. He organized the warehouse workers as members
of Teamsters Local 255. Allen was later transferred to a job in the Allis-
Chalmers office where he became a member of Office and Professional Em-
ployees Local 11 and was elected as its president, presiding at the union’s
meetings. His next career move was being hired as a business agent for Lo-
As editor of the Labor Press, Allen reported on the efforts of Communists
to infiltrate unions he noted in a 1975 interview with Frank Flori for the 75th
anniversary edition of the Labor Press. Allen also chronicled the fast and
enormous expansion of employment, particularly in shipbuilding, as the U.S.
geared up for World War II, with many jobs available for workers who’d been
beat down by the Great Depression.
“THERE WERE SUDDENLY lots of jobs and lots of overtime,” Allen
told Flori. “There was a vast influx of people into the area and unions were
trying to assimilate them all,” Allen said.
In the World War II years, Allen was active in U.S. War Bond drives and
served on an advisory panel to the federal government’s War Labor Board.
ALLEN PUBLISHED investigative reports in the Labor Press on people
and companies that caused problems for unions and their members. (I recall
that as a reporter for the pre-strike Oregonian going with another reporter to
interview Allen at a drive-in restaurant he then owned because we wanted
background about a man he did an exposé on who had surfaced in a story the
other reporter and I were working on.)
ALLEN WAS ELECTED to the Portland School Board in 1942 at age 27
and is thought to be the youngest person ever elected to the board. He said he
ran for the office because the board had barred him as Labor Press editor
(Turn to Page 11)
AFT readies long union drive among
3,000 nurses at Legacy Health Systems
A unionizing campaign has been
quietly under way for about two years at
Legacy Health System.
Portland-headquartered Legacy has
five hospitals and various other facili-
ties in Oregon and Southwest Washing-
ton, and employs 3,000 registered
nurses; none are represented by a union.
But the American Federation of
Teachers (AFT) wants Legacy to join
the growing roster of unionized hospital
chains. AFT has formed a group,
United Nurses of Legacy (UNL), as the
embryo of a new union local. With local
and national AFT bodies providing or-
ganizational support, nurses at Legacy
have been working slowly to build a
union organization within the work-
That’s a slightly unconventional
strategy. Traditionally, unions blitz
workers, collecting signatures in a rush.
They then use those signatures to file
for a government-run election; if a ma-
jority of workers vote “union yes,” the
employer, legally, has to recognize and
bargain with the union.
But often, management is able to use
legal avenues to limit the size of the unit
and delay the election, getting more
time to persuade workers to reject the
union. That’s what happened in an AFT
campaign at Legacy Mt. Hood Medical
Center in the early ‘90s, says UNL
spokesperson Matthew Rae. And a
campaign to unionize nurses at Good
Samaritan in the late ‘70s also failed.
So AFT is looking to create an ac-
tual organization of nurses well before
seeking certification as an exclusive
“We’re not asking permission to be a
union; we already are a union,” said
Jeannette Gailey, an RN at Legacy
Good Samaritan Hospital.
Spokesperson Rae says so far UNL
has helped nurses get results in several
cases, and has been offering profes-
sional development workshops.
At the cardiology department at
Legacy Emanuel Hospital, nurses and
several cardiologists signed a petition
protesting a decision to increase the
workload and number of patients per
nurse, and management rescinded the
decision, Rae said.
Morris & Kaplan, llp
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If the Legacy nurses end up winning
union recognition, they would form a
new autonomous local within the health
care division of AFT, which represents
an estimated 70,000 nurses and health
care workers in 18 states and territories.
AFT has another health care local in
Oregon — Oregon Federation of
Nurses and Health Professionals— with
2,500 members at Kaiser Sunnyside
Medical Center and Providence Mil-
waukie Hospital. “Collectively, we’re
not used to standing up and speaking
with one voice,” Gailey said. “But the
bottom line for me is nurses have to
have more say.”
votes for union
OLYMPIA — Faculty members at
The Evergreen State College have
voted to form a union.
The United Faculty of Evergreen,
announced Nov. 1, will represent ap-
proximately 260 faculty members.
It is the fourth faculty union among
Washington’s public colleges and
universities following enactment of a
Washington state law in 2002 that al-
lows professors and instructors to or-
ganize. Faculty members at Central
and Eastern Washington universities
recently negotiated the first collective
Central Washington University is
in the midst of bargaining a first con-
UFE is affiliated with the Wash-
ington Education Association, Na-
tional Education Association, Ameri-
can Federation of Teachers and AFT
Washington, AFL-CIO. The United
Faculty of Washington State is the
statewide organization for faculty
unions, representing approximately
2,200 faculty members statewide and
educating 34,000 students.
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NOVEMBER 17, 2006