Founding PNLHA President Ross Rieder Remembered

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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.

Obituary

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 (www.act.alz.org) or the Pacific NW Labor History Association, P.O. Box 75662, Seattle, WA 98175.

Astoria mini-conference report – Local history

History lives again in Oregon’s coast city

Labor educator Marcus Widenor with two of the three local history panelists, Irene Martin and Bryan Penttila.

Labor educator Marcus Widenor with two of the three local history panelists, Irene Martin and Bryan Penttila.

Participants to the March 14, 2015, PNLHA mini-conference learned much about Astoria, the historic city at the mouth of the Columbia River founded by John Jacob Astor in 1811 as Fort Astoria.

It was once teeming with men and women who worked the local fisheries, canneries and forests for a living. Once known as a treacherous shipwreck coast, workers on pilot boats now ply the wide passage escorting freighters and other sea craft safely to their destinations.

The bustling coastal town used to be and still is home to several trade unions and you can still see that history in an area called Uniontown and in other parts of Astoria. The history of radical Finnish trade unionists, in particular, speaks to the richness of the region’s labor history as does the Astoria Labor Temple now a tavern and grill.

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