April 3, 2009 Volume 110 Number 7

Carpenters Local 247 elects Willie Gore president

At their March 10 regular meeting, members of Carpenters Local 247 elected Willie Gore to serve the remainder of the term of longtime president Bruce Dennis, who resigned in November. Gore outpolled Christie Kern and Gene Lawhorn for the unpaid position, which is responsible for running meetings and making appointments to committees. Gore said he plans to run for a full two-year term in June.

Gore, 54, first joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters in 1982 in his native Arizona, after working in nonunion residential construction. But the now-defunct local had trouble keeping market share in the right-to-work state, and Gore moved to Oregon after the local agreed to a wage cut.

An optimist by nature, Gore is ardent about the value of a hard day’s work and sticking to the union. When he arrived in Oregon in 1988, Gore said he took a job picking up garbage rather than working as a nonunion carpenter while he waited to get into Portland-based Local 247.

His first job through Local 247 was at PGE’s Trojan Nuclear Plant, which employed hundreds of Carpenters during an annual reactor shutdown.

Gore became active in the local on Dennis’ encouragement. Gore said there were 16 members at the first local meeting he attended. He and other members worked to come up with ways to increase turnout. They began inviting speakers, serving food and beverages, providing on-site child care, giving door prizes, and awarding union-logo Carhartt jackets to regular attendees. Today, attendance typically tops 100 in the 1,300-member local. As president, Gore said he aims to keep meetings short, orderly, positive, and fun.

He sees himself as a peacemaker, and said he decided to run for president in order to bring membership together.

Gore served four years as vice president and regional council delegate. He has taught classes at the Willamette Carpenters Training Center and served as a lead volunteer at the union picnic and union-led charitable activities like Christmas in April.

Local 247 members also elected Julio Figueroa to fill Dennis’ vacated position as delegate to the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters. Figueroa outpolled five others for the position, including Gore.

Dennis stepped down as Regional Council president also, and in February, council delegates chose Rich Peterson, president of Seattle-based Local 131, to replace him.

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