Many, many union leaders over the last 110 years have played an important role in the growth and continuity of the Labor Press as elected members of its board of directors.
The Portland Labor Press was established as a non-profit corporation whose shares were owned by various local unions and the Portland area central labor council. The Northwest Labor Press still operates that way through the non-profit Oregon Labor Press Publishing Company, Inc., whose shares are owned by AFL-CIO- and Change to Win-affiliated local unions and councils.
The newspaper’s first board of control, as it was then called, was comprised of E. Edwards of the Cigar Makers, the president; J.A. Goldrainer of the Barbers; J.A. Bushman of the Millworkers, who was president of the Portland Federated Trades Assembly; John Beigi of the Brewers; George M. Orton of the Pressmen; B. Hesselberg of the Typographers; C.H. Weber of the Clerks; Frank Allert of the Machinists; W.H. Robertson of the Letter Carriers; and August Eachie of the Beer Drivers.
Today’s board is comprised of Chair Bob Petroff, directing business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24; Treasurer John Mohlis, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council; Vice Presidents Jeff Anderson, secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, and Ed Barnes, retired business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48; and Secretary Bob Tackett, executive secretary of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.
Barnes is one of the longest serving board members, having first been elected in 1991.
Another long-serving board member was E.J. Stack of Portland Cigar Makers Local 202, who was on the board from 1915 until his death in 1950. He was secretary of the Portland Labor Council and later was executive secretary-treasurer of the Oregon State Federation of Labor.
Another mainstay was A.R. Clayton, a longtime leader of Multnomah Typographical Union No. 58, who was on the Labor Press board from the 1930s until his death in 1967. R.C. Henarie succeeded Clayton as head of Local 58 and on the Labor Press board and was associated with the paper for two decades until he retired. G.O. Hunter of Portland-based Electrical Workers Local 125 helped oversee this newspaper from the 1930s to the ’50s, and was succeeded by Floyd Parker of Local 125. Parker served nearly 20 years by the time he stepped down in 1971, and was followed on the board by Jack Kegg, then Local 125’s business manager.
A 25-year member of the board was Charles T. Crane, whose tenure covered the years from 1930 to 1955. He was secretary-treasurer of Portland Barbers Local 75 for 35 years.
Seven women unionists from Portland Waitresses Local 305 furnished leadership for the Labor Press as board members or trustees for a half-century starting in the 1920s. First came Agnes Quinn, followed by Mary Todd, Rose Johansen, Alice Wesling, Mary Jackson, May Strand and Ellen Henderson. Local 305 later became part of Local 9 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union when the Culinary Union’s four Portland locals merged.
Ben Osborne, head of Iron Workers Local 29 (who also was an international vice president), sat on the Labor Press board for many years starting shortly after the paper’s birth. From 1926 until his death in 1938 he was the leader of the Oregon State Federation of Labor, serving as its executive secretary-treasurer. Other Iron Workers who’ve provided guidance for the paper include LeRoy Worley, a business manager of Local 29 who later moved up the international ladder to general secretary; Sid Stoddard, business manager of Iron Workers Shopmen’s Local 516, who became a general organizer for the international after serving as Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall’s Seattle regional director during the Carter Administration; and Tony Mongelli, also a former business manager of Local 516.
Food industry unionists who devoted their energies to the Labor Press board included George Lightowler and Gordon Swope of Food and Drug Clerks Local 1092; Keith Jons of United Food and Commercial Workers Local Ten-Eleven (father of Labor Press staffer Cheri Rice); and previous UFCW Local 555 presidents Ken MacKillop and Gene Pronovost.
Machinists John Petroff, an officer of Willamette Lodge 63 and a business representative of District 24, was a stalwart supporter of the Labor Press throughout his long career in the labor movement. He’s the only outgoing director who was accorded emeritus status after retiring in 1985. George Miller, directing business representative of District 24, succeeded Petroff on the board, and Bob Petroff, John’s son, succeeded Miller on the board.
Two Musicians Local 99 presidents who were major chords on the Labor Press board over a span of 40 years were Herman Kenin, a lawyer who went on to become his union’s international president in 1958, and Joe Dardis, a popular swing band leader who chaired the board for a decade.
Communications Workers of America Local 7901 provided two board members in Linda Rasmussen, a retired international representative, and former Labor Press staffer Gail Rosebrook. Local 7901’s membership includes former members of Typographical No. 58.
Also providing leadership and support as board members were Gary D. Kirkland, former chief executive officer/secretary-treasurer of Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 11, who now works for the international; Judy O’Connor, a retired executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, and Jeff Richardson, former financial secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 9. Space does not permit listing all those who have served the Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. as board members. This anniversary issue is dedicated to all of them and all staff members and freelancers who’ve been associated with the Labor Press the last 110 years.