Sandy Ellis – Oregon Oral History Program – Featured Interview


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 or trustee Jim Strassmaier

Coos Bay member in Columbia magazine

Lionel Youst at the 2015 Seattle conference.

Lionel Youst at the 2015 Seattle conference.

Coos Bay PNLHA member Lionel Youst has had his article “The IWW– An Inherited Memory” published in the winter 2015-16 edition of Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History issued by the Washington State Historical Society. The article was based on Lionel’s presentations at the Portland conference in 2013 and the Cumberland, BC, conference in 2014.

Forthcoming in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly is his article “Harry and Agnes Bridges: A Couple at Odds,” the story of Bridges and his first wife Agnes Brown of Coos Bay. The article is an expanded version of Lionel’s presentation to the 2015 Seattle conference.

For sources, Lionel says it relies heavily on (a) taped interviews I did with my father in 1967, in which he told of his early experience with the IWW in Centralia; (b) Coos County newspaper accounts of the IWW in Coos County during 1912-13, included the deportation of the 23-year-old Wesley Everest who was lynched in Centralia on Nov. 11, 1919; and (c) a summary of my own experiences working at some 24 logging outfits in three states and British Columbia from January 1950 to April 1953, with observations on union and non-union camps at that time.”

Lionel, a frequent contributor to PNLHA conferences, will celebrate his 82nd birthday in early January.

Remembering BC working people

lhc-021-1024x446-compressorThe British Columbia Labour Heritage Centre is inviting people to participate in its latest project, “Remembering Working People: Plaques Around the Province Project.”

Project goals: identify and catalogue existing memorials and install a new series of cast bronze plaques documenting events, actions, episodes, movements, experiences, groups, individuals or places that have not been recognized to date.

“This is an exciting project that will increase public awareness of the history of working people in British Columbia in a permanent way,” LHC chair Ken Novakowski said.

The LHC is reaching out to as many labour and community groups as possible to fulfill these goals. The focus is on BC regions outside the urban centers and anyone can submit a nomination.

View the project website: . Contact project manager Donna Sacuta: .


PNLHA on Everett Massacre

Poster - Everett MassacreNovember 5, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the Everett Massacre. On the 70th anniversary, the PNLHA published a 24-page booklet documenting the terrible event that saw the shooting deaths of at least five people.

The booklet, by Scott Wilson, provides the details, including several photographs that depict the events that led to the deaths of several young members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and at least two members of the posse that was charged with stopping them from carrying on their free speech fight in Everett.

Everett Massacre – PNLHA booklet – 1986

For further details on the massacre, see Norman H. Clark, Mill Town: A Social History of Everett (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1970).

Oral History from the OLOHP — Mel Schoppert

The Oregon Labor Oral History Program (OLOHP), an affiliate project of the PNLHA and the Oregon Historical Society, preserves the collective history of labor unions and work life of Oregonians. The following audio excerpts illuminate a teenager’s dramatic passage from regular ordinary life, through the unbelievable extremes of war in the Pacific, to the transformation into passionate labor leadership.

Mel Schoppert: Tape 2, Side 1 October 16, 2001 : Excerpt Transcript
First Job After Returning from World War II

Mel Schoppert: Tape 2, Side 1 October 16, 2001 : Excerpt Transcript
“Raising Hell” on the Job and in the Union

From left to right: Wallace Feist, ATU 757 Secretary Treasurer, Ron Heintzman, ATU 757 President, Mel Schoppert ATU International Vice President, Rufus Fuller, ATU 757 Vice President

Mel Schoppert (17 July 1924 – 28 May 2002) worked as an officer of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 for eighteen years and served as as a business representative for eleven.

Beginning his career as a bus driver with the Portland Traction Company in 1952, Schoppert helped take wage rates from a low level to one of the highest in the country, with ample fringe benefits. Schoppert battled for and gained one of the first dental plans, job injury, “full pay” supplemental benefits, and broke the six week vacation barrier with six weeks after 30 years.

At the Oregon Legislature he lobbied for and got nineteen bills passed, calling for benefits and job security for transit employees. In 1973, he was elected to the post of Vice President of the ATU International and served as its Senior Vice President until his death in 2002.

The Schoppert interviews, conducted by the Oregon Labor Oral History Program (OLOHP) and archived at the Oregon Historical Society, were published in excerpts for union members in the NW Labor Press. OLOHP’s work is supported by ATU 757 members through a 2-cent per capita levy instituted in 2010. This contribution funds oral histories conducted by students, including subjects representing other unions.

Teaching resources – Power in our Hands

Power in our HandsOregon trustee Norm Diamond co-authored with William Bigelow a book that sounds like it should be in every labor educator’s back pocket: The Power in Our Hands: A Curriculum on the History of Work and Workers in the United States (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1988).

It gets a strong endorsement from Alibris ( which says “This celebrated book provides entertaining, easy-to-use lesson plans for teaching labor history.”

Even better, the late great Pete Seeger adds that “Most school teachers are drowned in paper, but here is one book I want to recommend to them. It is a way of getting American teenagers not just interested, but excited and passionate about their history – modern American labor history.”

Other teaching resources to consider: the Zinn Education Project:, and “Youth, Unions and You,” a B.C. Teachers’ Federation teaching guide:

Forthcoming in B.C.: An update of Youth, Unions and You plus a full unit of lessons for secondary school teachers on labour history/studies for the Social Justice 12 course that will be posted to the BCTF web site in fall 2014.