Norman Malbin, 1949-2017

Norm Malbin, longtime attorney at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, died Oct. 1 of heart failure at the age of 68. Malbin was a beloved figure in Local 48 and the local labor movement. He used his knowledge of the law to help union members and working people.

Malbin became general counsel at IBEW Local 48 in 1998. For more than two decades, he helped police the electrical industry, and defended countless working people who were wronged by their employers. He also helped hundreds of Local 48 members with wills, divorces, and legal advice in weekly legal clinics that he initiated. He advised business managers at Local 48, Local 280 and Local 932. And he organized and led an annual labor law conference at Local 48’s union hall. Since it began in 1996, the Oregon Labor Law Conference has trained hundreds of local union stewards and staff on how to defend union members’ rights. He retired in July 2014 for health reasons, but continued to offer legal advice and support to IBEW.

Born in Vancouver, Washington, on July 17, 1949, Norman David Malbin was the son of Morris Malbin and Nadejda Remenchik. It was a family with deeply held political convictions. His father, a radiologist, moved to the Portland area during World War II to provide medical care to Kaiser shipyard workers, and later played a role in the formation of the nonprofit Kaiser Permanente. An uncle and aunt helped fight against the fascists in Spain in the 1930s. Norm himself was named after famed Canadian physician Norman Bethune, who served as a surgeon in the Spanish Civil War.

After attending high school at Catlin Gabel in Portland, Malbin earned a degree in child psychology at the University of Denver in 1971. In 1979, he married Wendy Temko, the daughter of family friends. He was two years old when he met her.

Malbin went to work for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), where he was responsible for determining state prevailing wage rates on publicly funded construction projects. While at BOLI, he earned a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. After passing the bar exam in 1986, he worked at two law firms and later headed a private practice, always in the service of unions and working people.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years Wendy Temko, sons Ben and Zak, daughter-in-law Nicole, grandchildren Remy and Tessa, two sisters, and a large family of close relationships and deep friendships.

The annual labor law conference lives on, and will next take place Jan. 26, 2018, beginning with a tribute to Malbin.


Memorial: A celebration of life is tentatively scheduled Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at the IBEW Local 48 hall, 15937 NE Airport Way, Portland.

Remembrances: In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Northwest Workers Justice Project, to FASCETS, a nonprofit his sister Diane Malbin founded which educates the public about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and other neurobehavioral conditions (PO Box 69242, Portland, OR 97239), or to the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association.

4 Comments on Norman Malbin, 1949-2017

  1. I was sorry to hear of the death of Norman. He was always cheerful and treated everyone with respect including “us”, the lowly clericals. The last time I saw him was at my retirement farewell in 2013. He will be missed.

  2. I too am saddened at the news of Norman’s passing. His devotion to educating employees, employers and union officials in labor rights was an inspiration to all in the labor relations field. It is hoped that his inspiration will live on.

  3. I am going to truly miss Norman. He was one of a kind and I am so THANKFULL that I got to know him. He taught me so much over the past 17 years. He will be forever in my heart.

  4. Norm, I never got to thank you for the invaluable advice you gave me at the last Labor Law conference. I remembered thinking how happy you looked. I’m glad you were able to really enjoy your time after “retirement,” which I put in quotes because I know you didn’t really ever retire. I always appreciated how you helped educate your member on Workers’ Compensation issues and really helped us claimant’s attorneys make the system better for all injured workers.

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