VANCOUVER—Dave Ritchey has retired as business manager of Vancouver Laborers Local 335. He has served in that post since 2001. His last day was Dec. 31.
Shannon Stull, the local’s president, was appointed to fill out the remainder of Ritchey’s term that expires in May 2017.
Local 335 has 500 active and retired members who work in private-sector construction, at the public-sector Clark County Health Department, and as federal employees at Bonneville Power Administration.
Ritchey joined the union in 1979 at the encouragement of his father, Bill, who is a retired member of Local 335. After graduating from Washougal High School in 1978, Ritchey was working at a minimum wage job pulling green chain at a nearby plywood mill.
“After joining the union, I was making twice as much money, with a pension and other benefits,” he said.
During his career Ritchey worked on several large projects, including the second power house at Bonneville Dam, at Crown Zellerbach Camas Paper Mill’s modernization project, and on the Spirit Lake Tunnel. The tunnel project involved work under ground shoveling rock and dirt onto a conveyor called “ The Mole.”
“We would hit underground springs where water would run down the back of your neck, “ he recalled. “We got so far back underground that you could hardly see the entrance of the tunnel.”
Ritchey later returned to Bonneville Dam to work on the juvenile fish bypass. There, he got to work on the same crew as his father. Ritchey spent 12 years working as a hod carrier for Ballard International. In that job he traveled to paper mills up and down the West Coast working 12-hour shifts during mill shutdowns building high density tanks and chests for pulp storage.
His last job before becoming business manager was as a foreman for Howard S. Wright.
Always active in his union, Ritchey was recruited for the job of business manager. During his tenure he signed 58 new contractors and 76 project labor agreements. Twice he was named “Labor Leader of the Year” by the Southwest Washington Labor Roundtable.
Today, Ritchey is co-chair of the Labor Roundtable. He’s not sure if he’ll continue in that role. Ritchey plans to do more hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, and is planning a trip across the United States with his wife, Vanessa.