By DON McINTOSH
Northwest Oregon Labor Council has a new top officer. Thomas Mosher, a 41-year-old attorney and political consultant, won election as executive secretary-treasurer at NOLC’s May 23 delegates meeting. He took office immediately, replacing Bob Tackett, who retired.
Mosher is a member of American Federation of Musicians Local 99 and was one of three candidates nominated at NOLC’s April monthly delegates meeting. Another candidate, UFCW Local 555 political liaison Fiona Yau-Luu, dropped out of the running shortly before the vote, so delegates chose between Mosher and Eva Rippeteau, longtime political coordinator for Oregon AFSCME. Delegates for each affiliated union cast votes based on the number of members they pay dues to the council for. The result was 12,883 for Mosher and 10,335 for Rippeteau.
Mosher has played guitar and bass in several bands, and joined Local 99 in 2017 in part as a way to be part of the union movement. Growing up in Albany, New York, his dad worked as a mechanic, and his mom as a social worker and member of American Federation of Teachers. An uncle whom Mosher encouraged to join IBEW is now president of IBEW Local 236.
Mosher spent 13 years in Philadelphia, earning history and law degrees from Temple University and working as a law clerk, for numerous political campaigns, and on a city councilman’s staff. He moved to Oregon in 2014 and worked on a ballot measure that would have required labeling for GMOs.
In 2016, working as campaign manager for Portland Commissioner Steve Novick, he met Jeff Anderson, who was then secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 555. In August 2019 Mosher went to work for Local 555 as political and government affairs director. He also served as interim state director of the Oregon Working Families Party, a union-supported minor political party.
He married neurologist Justine Spisak last October and in November left Local 555 to take care of their newborn daughter Matilda.
Tackett put out word that he wanted to retire, but at NOLC’s first nominating meeting in March, no names were put forward to replace him. That’s when Local 99 secretary-treasurer Mont Chris Hubbard reached out to Mosher and encouraged him to run.
NOLC, which is directly chartered by the national AFL-CIO as a central labor council, supports 76 affiliated unions totaling 43,036 union members. Its jurisdiction is Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Columbia counties.
Serving as NOLC’s executive secretary-treasurer, its sole full-time staff position, is a big responsibility. Mosher said he sees the job as more facilitator than leader. His goal will be to determine what each affiliated union’s priorities are, and find ways the Labor Council can contribute. That’s likely to include strategic planning about how NOLC can best fulfill its mandate. Mosher also hopes to work with the Oregon Labor Candidates School to get more union members to run for public office and engage with government.
Mosher is an admirer of legendary labor leaders Eugene Debs and James Connolly. He may be a third-generation Mets fan, but he says he’s here to stay.