Sen. Rosenbaum receives PNLHA award

Sen Rosenbaum award presentation - June 3, 2016Sen. Dianne Rosenbaum received the Ross Rieder History Person of the Year Award on June 3, 2016. The senator shared this year’s award with Dick Edgington who received his award at the PNLHA conference awards banquet on May 21, 2016. Oregon trustee Jim Strassmaeir and new Oregon vice-president Ryan Wisnor presented the award.

Senator Rosenbaum represents District 21 in Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. She chairs the Senate Committee on Rules and Executive Appointments and is a member of the Senate Workforce and Judiciary Committee. She is a passionate advocate for women and working families, serving on the Oregon Hunger Task Force and on the board of Labor’s Community Services of United Way. Her accomplishments include passage of Oregon’s landmark Paid Sick Days and Retirement Security laws, as well as the Foreclosure Avoidance Program. She is a life-long member the Communications Workers of America and has served on the Oregon AFL-CIO executive board. She led two successful campaigns to raise Oregon’s minimum wage, and continues to lead the fight for a living wage. See also https://nwlaborpress.org/2002/8-16-02Rosenbaum.html .

The award for History Maker of the Year will be presented to the Rural Organizing Project at a later date.

New VPs and trustees acclaimed at AGM

Ryan Wisnor with AndyRyan Wisnor, an Oregon trustee and oral historian, was acclaimed Oregon vice-president at the annual PNLHA membership meeting on May 22, 2016. Ryan succeeds Ron Verzuh who has stepped down to continue his PhD studies. David Swan of IAM Local 751 becomes Washington VP, replacing Jason Redrup, and Brian Charlton remains BC’s VP. Lane Poncy stays as secretary and Brenda Doolittle as treasurer. Joey Hartman continues as BC treasurer.

Acclaimed as trustees for Oregon are Bob Bussel, Norm Diamond, Nathan Moore, Jim Strassmaier, and Mike Sullivan. Washington trustees are Christine Fullerton, Jason Redrup, Conor Casey, John Boyle, Mike Honey, Jeremy Coty, and Ross Rieder. BC trustees are Anne Davis, Larry Kuehn, Scarlet Scheibel, Coleen Jones, and Allen Seager.

The meeting also voted to create an electronic voting system for future elections and to end the president’s stipend. Oregon member Bruce Nelson reported that the financial audit authorized by last year’s annual meeting failed to produce results due to a lack of cooperation.

 

2016 PNLHA conference report

Solidarity Forever finale 2 - Friday receptionAnnual conference well received

 The 48th annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, held May 20-22, 2016, in Portland, was well received based on word-of-mouth comments and evaluations completed by 30 of about 125 participants, including 114 paid registrants.

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What did participants like best? One respondent summarized the feeling of many by praising “the interaction, friendliness and openness” of the conference. Another appreciated “the atmosphere of sharing, learning and solidarity.” Still another commented on how the content “related to contemporary issues.” Another liked the “great mix of scholars and activists [engaged] in lively and fruitful dialogue.”

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What did they like least? More than one respondent complained that there were too many good presentations to choose from. Some complained that there was not enough diversity: “Overall, it’s still a very white-person focused perspective, I can see that there’s an effort being make to change that, but [there’s] a long way to go.” Others said the conference needed more youth involvement. One suggested that the PNLHA sponsor a scholarship for high school and university students to attend the conference. Another proposed an essay or speech writing contest with the winner coming to the conference.

 Workshops, plenaries rated high

Twenty-six respondents gave the presentations an overall rating of “excellent” or “very good.” One respondent said they were “top notch” and another said they were “worth the price of admission.” Some were disappointed that they could not attend all the presentations.

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Sharing top honors for the favorite presentation were British Columbia filmmaker Neil Vokey’s U.S. premiere of Goodwin’s Way, University of Colorado (Denver) instructor James Walsh’s presentation on the Romero Theater Troupe, and University of Wisconsin scholar Andrew Wolf’s “The Living Wage and the Articulation of Working-Class Citizenship, 1920-1970.” The climate change roundtable discussion, the literature of labor, “Labor history: old style and digital style,” also won praise as did Gwen Trice’s presentation on African-American loggers, Steve McQuiddy on conscientious objectors in Waldport, Oregon, during the Second World War, Pacific University’s Larry Lipin on class and wilderness management, and PNLHA trustee Ryan Wisnor ‘s “The Trees Saved Them,” a unique angle on the historic 1934 longshoremen’s strike.

 Program events highlights

 Oregon First Nation’s leader Carolee Morris, a member of the Cowlitz First Nation tribal council, welcomed participants to our Friday night reception. She was followed by Portland band General Strike that brought the evening to a close with a rousing round of Solidarity Forever.

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Both the Saturday and Sunday plenaries were well attended and received favorable comments. Saturday’s keynote session garnered the most votes for “favorite presentation.” Sunday’s plenary won praise both for Washington State Labor Council president Jeff Johnson’s incisive comments on the need for labor to work for positive answers to climate change problems, and for the use of Skype to allow labor/environmental author Jeremy Brecher to respond.

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About 100 participants attended the banquet and awards ceremony. Participants applauded the food and the unionized staff that provided it. They also enjoyed Bellingham, WA, musician Dana Lyons who set a positive and participatory tone for the evening with his first set, featuring his trademark Cows with Guns song.

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The awards ceremony was interrupted when Dick Edgington, a co-recipient of the Ross Rieder Person of the Year Award, lost his balance and fell while mounting the stage to accept the award from PNLHA Oregon trustee Jim

Strassmaier. Conference participant Dr. Larry Morgenstern attended to Edgington along with nurse Maurge Dulaney as well as presenter Joanne Ursino. An ambulance team also examined Edgington and reported only minor injuries. The unfortunate incident disrupted the evening but a second musical set by Dana Lyons provided some tension relief for the remaining conference attendees.

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Edgington’s co-recipient Senator Dianne Rosenbaum was to receive her award on June 3. A future date will be set to present the History Maker of the Year Award to the Rural Organizing Project.

 Cultural program applauded

Three musical groups – Portland’s General Strike, Eugene’s Monday Morning Denial, and Bellingham, WA’s Dana Lyons were all applauded. As one evaluation noted, “The incredible music programming conveyed not only entertainment, but also the integral part it has played in the history of the labor movement.” Oregon trustee Nathan Moore, working with sound technician Dennis Soper, also playing harmonica with Monday Morning Denial, ensured that the music was technically excellent. Nathan also worked closely with Oregon trustee Ryan Wisnor who acted as liaison with the conference facility staff.

Fundraising results encouraging

There were 28 co-sponsors, three of which came after the conference ended. In-kind contributions included union photocopying of the kit materials by SEIU Local 503 members from the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon as well as the free printing of the colorful conference brochure that appeared in all conference kit folders. Thanks to Portland’s union printer, Morel Ink. A poster with the names of conference co-sponsors was displayed throughout the conference and several announcements were made to thank them. The names also appeared at www.pnlha.org.

 Exhibitors’ displays added color

The conference hosted about 10 exhibitors, including several booksellers, a photo display, a solidarity quilt raffle, and a Columbian workers table. Choosing to have the exhibits arranged around the Friday reception room added much color to the proceedings.

 Kudos to conference organizers

The conference strongly benefitted from the volunteer work of the following people: Program coordination – Marcus Widenor; Venue/catering – Lane Poncy; A/V-Internet-Skype ­– Ryan Wisnor; Awards – Jim Strassmaier; Registration – Bruce Nelson and Carolyn Matthews; Exhibitor displays – LisaMary Wichowski; Photography and design – Leola Jewett-Verzuh; Music coordination – Nathan Moore; Overall coordination, fundraising, publicity, and conference kit development – Ron Verzuh.

 A final word of thanks

Judging from the written evaluations and verbal comments during the conference, the event was a programming success. Several participants were inspired by the proceedings and have pledged to attend future PNLHA conferences. The accident during the awards ceremony represented a flaw in the management of the event. As noted on several evaluation forms, needs of the elderly must be fully addressed in future. The conference was an overall financial success and all conference volunteers deserve a vote of thanks as do all our co-sponsors.

Note: More conference photos will be posted to a gallery section of our site.

2017 PNLHA Conference – Call for Papers

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution; Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific NorthwestCFP

May 26 – 28, 2017
Labour History Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia

Sponsors: Pacific Northwest Labour History Association & BC Labour Heritage Centre

The Russian Revolution was one of the most significant events of its decade. As described in Oregonian John Reed’s book, there were events leading to and flowing from those “Ten Days That Shook the World” in October 1917.

In Canada and the US, many 20170453269_95b7cbaa22_oworkers saw an opportunity for class war, believing that socialism could overcome capitalism as the dominant political reality. In the Pacific Northwest, new forms of industrial organizing were bolstered by aspirations of a new world order, and the labour movement briefly swelled with enthusiastic members who were eager to be part of the change.

Communists and socialists developed as key leaders in the labour movement, and in organizing the unemployed and disenfranchised. General strikes in Vancouver, Seattle, and Winnipeg, the OBU, On-to-Ottawa Trek, and jobless sit-down strikes, and new unions of woodworkers, miners, shipyard workers, and fishers were all communist and socialist-led.

21835627452_062d9964f9_oBut capitalism held firm and enjoyed the resources and political clout of the wealthy. Activists were tagged as Bolsheviks and foreign-born agitators risked deportation for their activism.

The cold-war politics lasted decades, with “red-led” unions subject to purges and disbandment. Many individuals suffered personal consequences, including losing their livelihood.

This conference will explore the impacts and lasting influences of this history on contemporary labour.

Continue reading

Sandy Ellis – Oregon Oral History Program – Featured Interview

S.Ellis

Sandy Ellis (1987)

Sandy Ellis taught school for fifteen years before being elected President of the Oregon Education Association (OEA) at the age of 36. She led the OEA through important changes including implementation of affirmative action and a merger with classified employees. Ellis provided leadership at both the local and state level.

Now listen to excerpts from her oral history conducted by the Oregon Labor Oral History Program.

For more information about sponsoring an oral history or to volunteer for interviewing, research, or transcribing contact former Oregon PNLHA VP Carolyn Matthews matthews.carolyn.k@comcast.net or trustee Jim Strassmaier strassj@spiritone.com.

Portland PNLHA conference on KBOO radio

KBOO logoThe 2016 PNLHA conference was discussed on the Old Mole Variety Hour radio show on KBOO radio, Portland’s community radio station, on May 16, 2016. Historian Laurie Mercier interviewed Oregon PNLHA vice-president Ron Verzuh on highlights of the weekend conference at the Portland State University Hotel and Conference Center.

http://kboo.fm/media/49839-old-molevariety-hour-may-16-2016

PNLHA keynote speaker on KBOO radio

250px-George_Heyman_portraitWhat can be done if corporate America and its politicians don’t take climate change more seriously? British Columbia legislator George Heyman comments on this and other environment issues on KBOO radio. Heyman, a social, environmental and labour activist, also spoke with interviewer Bill Resnick about what Vancouver, B.C., is doing and must do to combat climate change. Here’s the interview link: http://kboo.fm/media/49703-facing-climate-change-vancouver-bc .

Oregon member publishes articles on the Bridges and IWW

Lionel Youst’s article on West Coast Longshore union leader Harry and Agnes Bridges has been published in the current edition of the Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Lionel, a PNLHA member from Coos Bay, Oregon, has been a perennial conference presenter.

His article, “Harry and Agnes Bridges: A Couple at Odds,” presents the story of Bridges and his first wife Agnes Brown of Coos Bay. It is an expanded version of Lionel’s presentation to the 2015 Seattle conference. Youst on the Bridges

Lionel also had his 2014 PNLHA presentation on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)  published in Columbia, the magazine of northwest history. Youst in Columbia

Both articles are posted here with the author’s permission.

Know Your City – May Day Inspired People’s History of Portland Tour

KYCKnow Your City invites you to its May Day inspired People’s History of Portland walking tour. A People’s History of Portland highlights the roots of Portland’s downtown immigrant and working class communities, and celebrates the ongoing decades of social justice leaders and grassroots movements.

Date: Saturday, April 30
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Complete details and RSVP

Before Portland was known for Portlandia, the foundation of the city was built by immigrant labor. This tour tells Portland’s story from the viewpoint of Chinese people, Japanese people, African American people, Jewish people, and LGBTQ communities, whose histories are often left out of the mainstream. A People’s History of Portland tour challenges you to take a closer look at Portland and how we got to where we are today.

Our special May Day themed tour includes new sites of significance that are important places for labor activism and direct action; and will be led by local historian Ryan Wisnor, whose work focuses on labor and working-class history as documented through oral histories. He also serves as a Trustee for the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA) and is a Masters student in History at Portland State University.

Tour Highlights:
– Portland’s “Old” and “New” Chinatowns
– The site of Portland’s first African American community
– “Nihonmachi,” Portland’s Japantown
– LGBTQ roots in Old Town
– Marie Equi in Portland and early Portland women’s history

New film on Greeks at Ludlow

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.06.11 AMThe new film Ludlow–Greek Americans in the Colorado Coal War documents the role of Greek-American workers during the Ludlow, CO, strike and subsequent Ludlow Massacre.

“Many lives were saved [at Ludlow] because the Greeks were armed,” said one person interviewed for the film. “They knew how to use rifles. They knew how to fight. They knew how to engage in guerrilla combat,” said another.

See a film trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meNu7XCkW-8