February 19, 2010 Volume 111 Number 4

CWA Local 7901’s Linda Rasmussen hangs it up after 46 years

Communications Workers of America (CWA) international staff representative Linda Rasmussen has retired after 46 years in the union.

A Portland native, Rasmussen served two terms as president of CWA Local 7901 in the early ‘80s. It was in her second term that the international union hired her as a staff rep, taking her to Tukwila, Washington. She spent three years there before heading to Denver and the union’s District Office. After nine years in Colorado, Rasmussen returned to Portland. As a staff rep, Rasmussen has been responsible for member mobilization activities during collective bargaining and political action campaigns. She has handled grievances, arbitrations and contract negotiations, and was assigned to be education director for the 14-state region.

“Working in the labor movement has been very rewarding,” Rasmussen said. “I have been fortunate to work for CWA. The union has provided me lots of great opportunities.”

Outside the CWA, Rasmussen, 65, has been an active participant in the Oregon labor movement as well. Until her retirement in January, she was an at-large member of the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board. She was the founding president of the Oregon Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, a past president of the Industrial Union Council, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co., which owns the Northwest Labor Press.

Outside the labor movement, she served as a governor’s appointee to the Oregon Employment Advisory Council — the last three years as chair; she is a past president of the Urban League of Portland and a former president of the Portland Civil Service Board.

After graduating from Cleveland High School in Southeast Portland, Rasmussen attended Western Oregon University (then known as Oregon College of Education) and Portland State University. She left school to take a job as an operator at Pacific Northwest Bell. She immediately became active in her union, volunteering as a shop steward, to the Legislative Committee, and writing for the newsletter.

She says union activism came easy, owing to her mother, who was president of the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks local at Union Pacific Railroad.

“As a kid, she took us to picket lines and union meetings,” Rasmussen said.

Retired for less than 60 days, Rasmussen has already applied to volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children. She’s delivering Meals on Wheels to house-bound seniors, and has signed up for her neighborhood’s SMART program (Start Making a Reader Today).

Rasmussen also has already committed to help the Oregon AFL-CIO work for labor-endorsed candidates in this year’s primary and general elections.

She was honored at a reception Jan. 16 in Northeast Portland. 

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