Founding PNLHA President Ross Rieder Remembered


PNLHA remembers one of our founders and long-time president, Ross Rieder, who has been such a force for labor and for social justice for decades. He was the heart of our organization and his passion and organizing ability made the PNLHA the unique organization it is. Ross’s commitment to promoting the history and heritage of labor in the Pacific Northwest is a legacy that will continue to inspire and endure. He will be missed.


Ross K. Rieder

Labor Historian

April 19, 1940-Dec. 14, 2021

Ross K. Rieder (81) was born in Yakima, WA to Frances and Rolla Rieder Sr. He Attended public schools in San Jose, CA, Damascus, Syria (9th grade) and Yakima, and in 1962 received his BA degree in Music Education from Linfield College in McMinnville, OR.

Ross began teaching general music and 8th grade chorus in 1962 at Evergreen Jr, High School in Everett, WA, where he served for 7 years and became a member of the Everett Federation of Teachers, Local 772 AFT. He was elected President of the Washington State Federation of Teachers (WSFT) in 1968, and served until 1975.

Ross’ passion and dedication to service was UNION LABOR, preserving the history of working people, notably in the Pacific NW. His career continued with IFPTE, Local 17 as a negotiator and organizer from 1977-79, the Washington State Labor Council from 1979 through 1986 as Political Action Coordinator and the Snohomish County Labor Council, 1992-97 as an organizer. He produced the PNLHA newsletter Urban Work, hosted Everett radio station KSER’s “Part of the Union” program from 2000-2012 and worked with the Wash. Federation of State Employees filming the monthly TV special “OUR VIEW” reflecting on labor history. 

Ross’s legacy was serving as President of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA) from 1977 and retiring in 2015. Since the late 80’s, PNLHA has sponsored a Labor Stage at Folklife and presented periodic labor concerts and arts festivals over many decades. He helped sustain and grow PNLHA, oversaw annual conferences, produced the annual labor history wall calendar and created labor union walking tours in Seattle and Tacoma.

He was a charter member of the Washington Federation of Teachers Retiree Chapter, Local 8045R AFT, and served on its executive board from the chapter’s inception in 2003 until 2017. Ross was President for six years, from 2009 until 2015.

Ross enjoyed music and book collecting, piano playing, amateur photography and local and international travel. His passion for reading continued throughout his life. 

Ross is survived by his wife Brenda Doolittle, sons Stephen (Mary) Rieder and Michael Rieder, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Remembrances may be made in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association ( or the Pacific NW Labor History Association, P.O. Box 75662, Seattle, WA 98175.

Registration Now Open for the May 26 – 28, 2017 Conference

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution: Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific Northwest
May 26 – 28

Early Bird Registration Now Open

Presented in collaboration with the BC Labour Heritage Centre

The PNLHA and BC LHC welcome trade unionists, students, academics and others interested in labour history and worker’s heritage to this conference.


The Nest – 6133 University Blvd Vancouver, BC Canada (University of British Columbia campus)

2017 Conference Program (PDF color)
2017 Conference Program (PDF b/w)

Registration Details:
Register online with PayPal or
download instructions for registration by mail with check.

Hotel Accommodations:
Registrants are responsible for booking your own accommodation. A limited block of rooms has been secured at the Ponderosa Suites – 2017 W. Mall. This is a new student residence 5 minutes walk from the conference site. (Shuttle for those requiring).

There are 2 options, both offer daily housekeeping:

A) Ponderosa Studio Suite: double bed, full kitchen, private bath @ $120.00 per room/night + 13% taxes; or

B) Ponderosa Premium Single: a single bed within a 4-bedroom unit with 2 full bathrooms, kitchen, dining and sitting area @ $56.00 per person/night + 13% taxes

Make reservations by APRIL 25th directly with UBC Accommodations. Indicate you are with the “PNLHA Labour History Conference” for the reduced rate.

Tel (604) 822-1000 | Toll Free 1-888-822-1030 | Fax (604) 822-1001

Subject to availability, these rates are extended 3 days before and 3 days after the conference for those wishing an extended stay in Vancouver. Cancellation charges will apply.

Note: Parking is an additional $16/day or $35/wk.  Transit express bus to downtown 20 minutes.

Questions? Email or call Joey Hartman at 778-870-0703

PNLHA assists with Joe Hill event

Joe Hill Centennial TributeThe PNLHA executive board has voted to endorse the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s Nov. 19 tribute to legendary Wobbly troubadour Joe Hill. The board also agreed to send a contribution to assist with the event.

“The PNLHA is happy and proud to help sponsor the NOLC labor history and music event in tribute to Joe Hill this year,” said PNLHA president Tom Lux. “This is always a great event and we will encourage our members to attend.”

The “Joe Hill Centennial Tribute” will celebrate Hill as a labor organizer, songwriter and martyr.* The evening will include music by veteran singer-songwriter and social activist Anne Feeney. She’ll be joined by Citizen’s Band from Olympia, WA, and Portland’s General Strike. Eugene’s Mark Ross will act as MC.

Portland has a long tradition of annually celebrating the music and spirit of Joe Hill and others each November. Organizers expect that Portland’s 25th Annual Benefit Concert will follow in that tradition and be an exceptional event in many ways.

KBOO 90.7 FM, local unions and friends of labor are also sponsoring the tribute. Proceeds will benefit KBOO Community Radio and Sisters of the Road.

The event will be held Nov. 19 at the Alberta Rose Theater, 3000 NW Alberta St. in Portland. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Cost: $15. Order online at .

*Joe Hill was shot and killed by a Utah firing squad on Nov. 19, 1915.

BC film depicts worker history

These Were the Reasons DVD coverB.C. filmmaker Howie Smith’s 28-minute documentary, These Were the Reasons, provides an event-by-event glimpse at “the struggle of working people of B.C. to win basic union rights.”

Smith offers “a window into a century of union history.” Using interviews with workers, social activists, and trade unionists recorded over the past 40 years, Reasons unfolds that history “as told by those who lived it.”

Historic photographs and film footage depict the fight for equity and social justice, peace protests, winning the 40-hour week, and child labor. Interview subjects comment on labor martyr Ginger Goodwin, the On to Ottawa Trek, health care workers’ struggle against government attacks, and teachers “standing up for learning conditions.”

The film is designed as a teaching tool that connects B.C. workers’ history with today’s issues. To order DVDs, contact Smith at .

Stops of interest on Vancouver Island

Museums , parks and stops of interest on Vancouver Island

This list is by no means extensive but will give you an idea of some of the places you may want to see while you are on Vancouver Island.
Victoria is a great little city with it’s history still preserved to some extent, certainly more than Vancouver. Just a walk around the downtown core from the Legislature north to the Chinatown is worthwhile. The Royal BC Museum ( ) is worth a few hours. Walking tours are numerous go to for content and schedules. There are a variety of other tourist things you can do from whale watching to touring gardens like the famous Buchart Gardens. Go to for more info.

If you are coming from Victoria you will be driving through the Malahat Highway which is very scenic and on clear days has viewing stations that should be stopped for.

Duncan and the Cowichan Valley is quite beautiful and has a strong First Nations presence.The Quw’utsun Cultural Centre is worth a stop. Duncan also has EJ Hughes gallery on Station St that has a number of prints from this original BC artist.
If you have time detours to Cowichan Bay with its Maritime Centre or to Cheminus with it’s famous wall murals depicting the towns history is worthwhile.
Ladysmith , which was the start of the Vancouver Island coalfields, has a preserved buildings from that period (1890-1920) on it’s main street.
A little north of Ladysmith is the Morden mine site and it has the last standing tipple on the Island. Go to for directions. If the walk around the tipple gets you a little hungry or thirsty drive to the Crow and Gate, as close to an authentic English country pub as you’ll find outside of Sussex. The Crow and Gate Pub ( )
Nanaimo was the center of coal mining on the Island with mines at Wellington, Extension and right downtown. The ground underneath is riddled with tunnels. The walkway along the waterfront is both scenic and informative. Over the last few years the downtown area has been transformed with the addition of public art gallery, concert hall and museum ( ) spaces that has attracted some good restaurants and interesting stores.
You can take two routes north to Cumberland either the Inland Highway which is essentially a boring freeway but useful if you are short of time. Otherwise take the Old Island Highway (19A) that goes, for the most part, along the seashore. One of the nicest beaches is at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville. There is also the Milner Gardens just north of Parksville. Or you can take a side trip to a number of parks such as Horne Lakes Caves or Little Qualicum Falls. Coombs is a popular if kitschy shopping destination known for its goats on the roof.
Courtenay is the major town in the Comox Valley and is a strange mash up of interesting cultural events and progressive grassroots activists with coarse commercialism and backward governance. If you are into dinosaurs the Courtenay Museum has it covered. The Comox Valley Art Gallery has interesting shows and there are a number of independent galleries around. One to check out is operated by the K’omoks First Nation and is called the I-hos Gallery. Andy Everson, who designed the logo for the ‘idle No More’ movement has a number of his works there. If you are into mountain biking there are a number of options in Cumberland and up on Mount Washington. There are a number of beautiful parks in the area including Miracle Beach, Seal Bay and one of the few that can get crowded, Goose Spit.
Cumberland, where the conference is being held, is a gem. No franchises and a youthful population makes it a very culturally alive venue. There are lots of trails for both hiking and bike riding. Comox Lake, where many Miners Memorial attendees camp out for that weekend is a well-run and beautiful spot.