Lee Duncan, a 25-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, and a co-founder of the non-profit Unions for Kids (U4K), has officially retired from both organizations.
For the past 12 years, Duncan and his wife Kathy (also a member of Local 48) have coordinated the annual motorcycle poker run, Harley-Davidson raffle, auction and chili cookoff — with all the proceeds going to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Over that time- span, U4K has given away 12 new Harleys. More importantly, it has cut checks to the children’s hospital amounting to $465,000.
Duncan, 60, told the Labor Press that for now, Unions for Kids will carry on as a non-profit and will continue to host its “Date Night for Doernbecher” event. But at this point no one has stepped up to coordinate the motorcycle poker run. Duncan says that anyone wishing to take it over will first have to convince him that they will be able to maintain the high bar that has been set.
“I’ll be there for guidance, advice, and what needs to be done to keep it to the level it is at,” he said.
Duncan joined the Marine Unit of IBEW?Local 48 in 1989 after taking a job at WSI (West States Inc.) at the Portland Ship Repair Yard on Swan Island. He left the shipyard in 1994 to work as a low-voltage electrician on land. In 1999, while working for Christensen Electric, then-Local 48 business manager Jerry Bruce hired him as an organizer. [Bruce and Local 48 business rep Luigi Serio joined Duncan as co-founders of the Unions for Kids motorcycle poker run.]
Duncan remained on staff as an organizer and later as a business rep until 2009. He went back to the tools for a couple years before being rehired as a business rep in 2011. He worked in that capacity until retirement.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Duncan served on Local 48’s Executive Board, as a delegate to the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, and on the Executive Board of the IBEW & United Workers Federal Credit Union.
He said two highlights of his career were creating a low-voltage exam for new electricians coming into the union, and introducing his wife to Local 48.
An international vice president from IBEW’s 9th District asked Duncan to create the exam. Known as “Book 1,” it is still used today in both the 8th and 9th districts of the IBEW. Those districts cover 11 states in the Western United States.
Duncan introduced Kathy to Local 48 in 1999, after she had left U.S. West (as a member of Communications Workers of America). They started dating in 2001, and married in 2008 in a ceremony held at the IBEW?Local 48 hall. Kathy, who serves on the local’s Executive Board, works as a low-voltage electrician at Christensen Electric.
Duncan made note to give special thanks to Kathy, and to Shannon Walker, sales manager for Sunrise Dental and president of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, and Rob Williamson, U4K treasurer and IBEW federal credit union staff member, for all their time and effort on the poker run. [There were many others he wanted to thank, but space didn’t allow it.] The Duncans and Walker are the only remaining U4K committee members, having served since its inception 12 years ago. For those interested in coordinating the poker run, Duncan can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.