Terry Lansing, longtime secretary-treasurer of Bakers Local 114, retired Dec. 2 after a lifetime of involvement in the labor movement. Lansing joined Local 114 in 1976 as an employee of Williams Bakery in Eugene—following a failed effort to unionize a non-union bread plant in Salem. He soon became a shop steward and a union officer, and went to work for the local as a full-time business agent in 1990. He has served as Local 114’s top officer since 2004.
Portland-based Local 114 represents about 1,150 workers: Roughly 850 at the Franz, Kroger, Safeway and Bimbo/Oroweat wholesale bakeries, and about 300 at grocery store bakery departments.
Lansing’s union involvement predates his time with the Bakers. He grew up in San Rafael, California, and went to University of California at Berkeley on a Fulbright scholarship. There he became a member of the Worker Student Alliance, a radical faction within the group Students for a Democratic Society. After numerous acts of campus civil disobedience against the Vietnam War, he was kicked out of school and banned from every campus.
He then got a warehouse job and took part in a union organizing campaign. It failed, but the Teamsters let him use their hiring hall, and he got a union-represented job at Doughnut Corporation of America. It was after the plant closed in 1974 that he moved to Oregon.
BEST UNION RETAIL BAKERY? The best union scratch bakery right now is Rosauer’s in Hood River. They make everything down to the pie crust from scratch. They have real bakers and cake decorators. Roth’s IGA chain in Salem also still operates scratch bakeries. The best sourdough bread you can get is out of a Roth’s store.” — Terry Lansing
Looking back, Lansing is proudest of the times he was able to save members’ jobs, and he’s proud of his role on the Oregon Bakers Union Trust providing outstanding and affordable health benefits to 900 families of workers on the wholesale bakery side.
If he has any regrets, it’s the failure of a series of organizing campaigns — Dave’s Killer Bread, Breadsong Bakery, and Portland Specialty Baking.
“We’ve always lost our campaign in the last two weeks to a union buster. The new generation’s gotta figure out how to handle that, because employees generally are scared and a union buster knows how to come in, exploit that fear, and convince them to give the employer another chance.”
THE HAND-OFF: Because Lansing is retiring one year into his three-year term as secretary-treasurer, the union executive board appointed Darren Hamann to replace him until union officer elections are held in Dec. 2020. To replace Hamann as business agent, the board named Alejandro Ahumada.