'Labor's Own' endorsements include four rank-and-filers

By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor

The Northwest Labor Press' "Labor's Own" series concludes with this set of short sketches of union members running for office. Past issues have profiled Tony Corcoran, Gary Hansen, Diane Rosenbaum, Randy Leonard, and Jeff Barker.

This issue looks at two incumbents, Steve March and Laurie Monnes-Anderson, and two challengers, Roseburg Steelworker Bruce Cronk and Beaverton professor Mitch Greenlick. While March, Monnes-Anderson, and Greenlick don't fit the mold of the traditional union member (and union membership isn't a key part of their identity) they value their association with labor, and union political leaders consider them worthy of support.


Democrat Bruce Cronk, 61, is a true-blue unionist running against an incumbent Republican. Because Oregon House District 2, centered in Roseburg, holds a Republican majority, Cronk knows he's not likely to win this time, but he hopes that voters will recognize his name next time around.

Blue collar and proud of it, Cronk has been a welder most of his life. For the last seven years, he's been an electrician at Con-Vey Keystone - a manufacturer of conveyors, stackers, and feeders used in lumber mills and other industrial sites.

He's the secretary of his union, United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 5074, and a delegate to the Douglas County Labor Council. He's also a member of the local Workforce Investment Board, which oversees job training efforts.

Born in Michigan, Cronk has lived in Oregon 30 years, 20 of those in Roseburg.

Cronk says he always felt the plight of working people, but was driven to action by reading Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" and taking part in the November 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization.

"Those protests renewed my hope in humanity," Cronk recalls. "Even though the media tried to portray it as a bunch of hooligans, that's not the case. There were tens of thousands of union people there marching peacefully."

Cronk hopes to get the support of local union members. Though he says many union members in the Roseburg area are Republicans, he wants to win them over.

"People bolted when the Democrats went environmental, or because they objected to the platform on guns."

Cronk sees the Democratic Party as too pro-business, and wants to move it closer to workers' interests: "The Democratic Party ought to stand for working people."

Cronk's Republican opponent, two-term state representative Susan Morgan, works for a local timber mill. The Oregon AFL-CIO's Committee On Political Education (COPE) gave her a 44 percent rating for her votes in the last legislative session - the fifth worst record in the House. Despite that, she has the endorsement of the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon State Building Trades Council, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 75.

Cronk has the endorsement of the Oregon AFL-CIO, as well as the USWA, the Service Employees, and the Oregon Education Association. They've been helping in small ways, he says, but it's been difficult to run a serious campaign when Morgan is so favored to win.

But that doesn't stop Cronk from pressing the flesh at county fairs and sharing his views with voters.

Cronk says he objects to using tax dollars to build big box stores, like a local Home Depot, that put small businesses out of business. He also objects to subsidizing low-wage employers.

He thinks the state should use the kicker as a rainy day fund. And he's an advocate of tax justice. "The rich could afford to pay a little more. We get to vote on taxing smokers, but we never get to vote on taxes on the rich. It's not even on the agenda."


Mitch Greenlick, 67, has spent most of his working life as a manager at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. But he also prizes his union bona fides - as a part-time professor at Portland State, he helped get his fellows to join the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, and he has remained a member ever since.

Now he's running for the Oregon House of Representatives, for a second time, and unions are turning out to support him.

Greenlick grew up in a working class neighborhood in a union town - Detroit. His father belonged to the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks; his uncles were in Teamsters Local 299.

He chose the academic life. After a stint teaching at Wayne State University, he moved to Oregon in 1964 to start a research center for Kaiser Permanente.

Now, he's the chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, and an adjunct professor of sociology and social work at Portland State University.

He's been political all his life. At the age of nine, he distributed handbills to help re-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt to a fourth term. In the late 1960s he worked to improve conditions for migrant farmworkers, helping found the Virginia Garcia Clinic as well as Washington County's first Head Start program. And in the 1980s, he helped raise funds for the political campaigns of Oregon Congressman Les AuCoin.

That skill came in handy two years ago, when as a relatively unknown candidate for the Oregon House, he raised $305,000 and came 500 votes shy of winning office. This time out, he's favored to beat a lesser-known Republican candidate, Erik Hartung.

House District 33 runs from outer Northwest Portland to North Plains in Washington County, and from Barnes Road to Highway 26. It's considered a swing district with a slight Democratic edge. If elected, Greenlick's agenda would emphasize education, health care, and the environment. That agenda is outlined in a detailed set of proposals on his Website-www.greenlick.com.

Greenlick says he wants to unravel the damage done to Oregon by 1990's Measure 5 property tax limitation, which he says led to a zero-sum game of competition for dwindling resources among schools, public safety, and other needs. He wants to stabilize school funding by returning it to the local level.

He would work to defend the Oregon Health Plan, improve conditions for the state's recently unionized home health care workers, and take on the drug companies for overcharging Oregonians. He'd like to see the state form a purchasing co-op to buy drugs in bulk, and he wants to send a referendum to voters that would amend the state Constitution to declare the right of all Oregonians to have access to affordable, effective health care. This would be brought about with the development of a mandatory employment-based system augmented by public programs for those left out.


Democrat Steve March is considered a sure thing to represent central east side Portland for a second term. House District 46 is overwhelmingly Democratic, and the Republicans failed to nominate anyone; March's only opponent this November is Libertarian Joe Tompkins.

Because March occasionally works as a part-time professor of urban studies at Portland State University, he is a member of American Federation of Teachers-Oregon Local 3571. He had a 100 percent pro-union voting record in the 2001 Legislature, according the Committee On Political Education of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

March, 56, was born and raised on a ranch near Sacramento, where he learned how to ride a horse and herd cattle. He moved to Bend, Oregon, in 1985 to help some friends build a log cabin, and later went to work for Multnomah County auditor's office developing ways to improve government efficiency. He went to school at Portland State University and earned master's and doctoral degrees in urban studies and gerontology. He serves on the board of the Hollywood Senior Center.

His legislative interests include issues that affect women and senior citizens, utility regulation, land-use planning and education.

March says it has been frustrating to witness the Salem budget debate over the last two years. "The state Constitution says that as a legislator, you determine what the needs of the state are and then you provide the necessary revenues."

Instead, he says, the Republican legislative leadership keeps passing the buck to voters, and then voter rejection of the measures delays a solution to the crisis.

In legislative special session, he introduced a bill to raise the corporate income tax 1 percent. That would have solved the state's budget crisis, he said, but with Republicans in charge, the bill went nowhere.

He sees a sales tax or other consumption tax, or possibly a value added tax, as the long-term solution to the state's fiscal woes, but he would link it to some reduction in income and property taxes, so that the total amount of taxes would not increase for the average Oregonian.


After waging two tough campaigns to get into office, Laurie Monnes-Anderson is expected to have a fairly easy re-election campaign this year. The one-term Democrat from Gresham-area House District 50 faces Republican Ernest Hodgin, a political unknown who doesn't appear to be doing any fundraising.

Monnes-Anderson is a member of the Oregon Nurses Association and she cites union stalwart and labor commissioner-elect Dan Gardner as a political mentor.

Still, she says her votes show she's independent of the labor movement. Her votes in the 2001 Legislature earned her a 78 percent COPE rating, the fifth lowest of the 28 Democrats in the Oregon House.

"I'm a moderate," she explains. "I'm in a swing district. I won't vote party line."

Her dissents included votes to lower the inheritance tax and to change the way corporations are taxed. Monnes-Anderson feels Oregon is not a business-friendly state; she says she wants to promote business by sweetening the pot for out-of-state companies to locate here.

Monnes-Anderson, 56, grew up in Oregon. She earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1968 from Willamette University, and a master's at University of Colorado. A single mother of two, she moved back to Oregon in 1985 for the family support, and found work as a public health nurse, administering a $3 million program of tobacco-prevention and breast and cervical cancer prevention.

Concerned about public education, she served on the Gresham Barlow School Board from 1991 to 2000. And with help from the ONA's political engine, she ran for the Oregon House in 1998 and 2000, winning on the second try.

Monnes-Anderson is the only nurse in the Legislature, and she's made the most of it. She was able to get passed a number of bills important to nurses. In part, she says, that's because ONA has pursued a political strategy of supporting individuals in both major parties, and was able to find support among Republican leaders.

And the solution to the state budget crisis?

"The voters are going to need to decide," Monnes-Anderson said. "One option would be decreasing the income tax but looking at a sales tax. The public is becoming aware of the fragility of the revenues in the state."

October 4, 2002 issue

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