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

New labor history awards

LBL_fcov_72rgb_522_630_90Canadian wins ILHA book award

Canadian labor historian Craig Heron has won the International Labor History Association (ILHA) Book of the Year Award for 2015 for Lunch-Bucket Lives, Remaking the Workers’ City (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015). The ILHA describes the book as “a remarkably thorough study of workers and their city of Hamilton, Ontario, over a fifty-year period, 1890-1940.” The ILHA statement adds that Lunch-Bucket Lives reveals “the inner dynamics of labor situated in an environment of deep anti-labor hostility, political struggles, community cross-pressures, societal and economic upheavals that, taken together, drove changes in the labor sphere. The limits of labor power are explored and close attention to the political actors given, including conservative, liberal, socialist, communist, and independent progressive tendencies, yet without a worn, cold-war ideological framework.”

NYLHA history awards announced

The New York Labor History Association has announced its award competition for 2016. The awards “recognize series study in labor and work history.” Available are the Barbara Wertheimer Prize for the best undergraduate research paper and the Bernard Bellush Prize for best graduate student research paper. Both awards offer a $250 award. Entrants should send (email acceptable) one copy of their paper to Brian Greenberg, Department of History and Anthropology, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ 07764, . The deadline is June 15, 2016. For more, visit NYLHA Wertheimer and Bellush Prizes .

Portland:  A Union Town

factsrosecitya02November is labor history month in Portland and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s labor history committee will celebrate it with a presentation of its 2015 program, “Portland: A Union Town” on Nov. 23.

This year, committee members are compiling a timeline beginning with Portland’s earliest worker organizations and unions. The project, which includes narration and photographs, will highlight the numerous contributions to the community.

“This will be a work in progress, as long as individuals step up and do the work necessary to save, preserve and document Portland-area workers’ rich history,” said committee chair Jim Cook. “Portland was, is and will forever be a union town.”

Local unions are participating via a history committee survey, listing charter dates, contributions to our community such as improvements on the job and for public safety, apprenticeship programs, public education, job actions, boycotts, community service, charities, etc.

“Portland: A Union Town” will be introduced at the NOLC delegates’ meeting at the IBEW Local 48 Hall, 15937 NE Airport Way, Portland. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23.

Centralia, WA, Wobbly mural defacement called travesty

Centralia mural defacedAt the October meeting of the Oregon PNLHA trustees, Mike Sullivan raised concerns about the defacement of the labor history mural in Centralia, WA.

Here are some thoughts on what is being viewed by some as “cultural vandalism” and a “travesty.”

The issue is the cutting of windows into the famous mural depicting what has been called the Centralia Tragedy by some and a Massacre by others. It involved a deadly battle between members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Wobblies, and local Legionnaires in 1919.

From Mike Alewitz, artistic director of the Labor Art & Mural Project at Central Connecticut State University:

THE RESURRECTION OF WESLEY EVEREST, the artistic result of a mural project involving dozens of activists in the Pacific Northwest, has been literally defaced.

Completed in 1997, the monument to the antiwar unionist Wesley Everest, lynched in 1919, was created as a way to reach out to immigrant workers new to the Centralia area. The painting of the image was preceded by months of public discussion and debate involving local unions, the IWW, the Labor Education Center at Evergreen College and numerous individuals.

Imagine if the same treatment was accorded to Martin Luther King or another beloved figure. This desecration of the mural by the owners of Centralia Square, is an insult to every working person.

From “Tuck” at Bellingham IWW:

Centralia Square Antique Mall responds to DEFACEMENT OF EVEREST MURAL. This August 22 comment appears on the Centralia Square Antique Mall F’book page, following Paul Lenart’s comment:

“In response to all of the concern about the mural, it will be completely restored. The new owners have gone to great trouble and expense to make sure it will remain. Every piece that was removed was preserved and hangs up in the hallway on the 3rd floor. In addition perforated plastic has been made with the exact images that were removed. This renovation should be completed soon. Since the owner of Centralia Square Antique Mall no longer owns the building, we had nothing to do with the renovation process. However we are very pleased with the new owner’s efforts to maintain the mural.” I will be writing them to commend their concern, and urging them to post to Bellingham IWW when the work is done. So, suggest in the meantime we hold off on further bad reviews, and give them a chance to get the renovation completed. Tuck

One Washington PNLHA member who has been following the discussion, advises that future commemorative plaques and murals should be erected either on a union building or a public property.

U.S. labor history refresher

Cover - Berkeley ctr bookletPNLHA members and others who might feel the need a quick refresher on their U.S. labor history will find it in the “Labor History” section of “Work, Money and Power: Unions in the 21sst Century.”

“Unions have been around since shortly after the American Revolution,” the booklet explains. “As the numbers of wage earners in the early republic grew, workers found they need to form organizations to defend their common interests and advance their economic and political agendas.”

Produced in 2013 by the UC Berkeley Labor Center for Labor Research and Education, the well-illustrated booklet was written by Fred Glass of the California Federation of Teachers. The history section is attached.

U.S. labor history – Berkeley Ctr booklet – 2013