Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

January 7, 2000

TONY MONGELLI, retired business manager of Portland-based Iron Workers Shopmen's Local 516, becomes the first unionist profiled in the NW Labor Press in the year 2000 as the newest member of the Labor Hall of Fame sponsored by the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council.

The retiree organization, affiliated with the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO, meets monthly in the NOLC's conference room at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland, where delegates make their Hall of Fame selections.

Mongelli, who turns 70 next month, retired five years ago after serving 17 years as financial secretary and business manager of Local 516. That's the longest anyone has held Local 516's leadership job.

For much of the past year he's been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. He hasn't smoked for many years and thinks his earlier work as a welder, in the era before welders were issued health and safety equipment, contributed to the disease. He's heartened by the fact that his doctor has told him his cancer is in remission.

ANTHONY JOSEPH MONGELLI was born in 1930 in Portland and graduated from Franklin High School. He took a job in 1948 at City Iron Works, a warehouse for Portland Wire and Iron, and joined Local 516. Membership in Local 516 was a family tradition; his father, two uncles and numerous cousins also belonged.

In 1949 Tony moved to Gunderson's, which then operated with union contracts. At that time the firm built bridges and tanks. After serving in the U.S. Army, he began long-term employment at the Ray F. Becker Co., a metal fabricating shop, where he became a Local 516 shop steward.

In 1952 Mongelli and Madaline Summers were married, which gave him two brothers-in-law who also belonged to Local 516.

In addition to being a shop steward, Mongelli was elected his local union's sergeant-at-arms, and in 1974 was elected president. Three years later the union hired him as its apprenticeship coordinator. He continued as president of the local and chaired the shopmen's apprenticeship committee.

MONGELLI WAS ELECTED as Local 516's financial secretary and business manager in 1978, succeeding Sid Stoddard, who was appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter as Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall's personal representative at the Labor Department's Seattle regional office. Stoddard also was named the regional director.

After Carter lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan, Stoddard was appointed as an international organizer for the Iron Workers.

In his years as president and later business manager, Mongelli also was a trustee of Local 516's pension fund and its health and welfare fund. And he was secretary-treasurer of the Iron Workers Pacific Northwest District Council and served on the international union's grievance panel and on various committees at Oregon AFL-CIO conventions.

Retirement and his recent cancer treatment have not interrupted his continuing service as secretary-treasurer of the Pacific Northwest Iron Workers Federal Credit Union and as treasurer of the Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co., the labor-owned publisher of the Northwest Labor Press. Also, he's president of the Local 516 Retirees Club.

WHEN MONGELLI RETIRED in 1995, the International Association of Iron Workers presented him with its prestigious "High Beam Award" at a dinner attended by several hundred representatives of unions, employers and government agencies.

Looking back on his long career, Mongelli told the Labor Press, "I liked the people I associated with in the labor movement and in management. I enjoyed my job." After word that he was diagnosed with cancer began circulating in the industry, he received phone calls of support from his friends on both sides of the bargaining table.

MONGELLI SAID his biggest accomplishment in his years of leading Local 516 was his ability to "retain almost every shop" and "maintain a good membership total" in the 1980s despite the anti-worker, anti-union agenda of Republican President Ronald Reagan and the economic recession and high unemployment caused by the former movie actor's policies.

Although Mongelli's union work demanded most of his attention, he still found time to be active in sports programs. He's in his 38th year of involvement with Little League and in his 25th year as a district administrator of the youth baseball program. He started as a coach when his son, Tony Jr., played Little League baseball. Mongelli is first vice president of the Portland Amateur Baseball Association and was its secretary for five years. Also active in bowling, he's been president of the Broadway Commercial League for nearly 30 years and is a past president of the Portland Bowling Association.

For many years he's also pursued the sedentary hobby of stamp collecting. In addition to their son, Tony Jr., the Mongellis have a daughter, Candy Bennett, and three grandsons.

Appropriately enough for a union man, Mongelli and his family attend the St. Joseph The Worker Catholic Church in southeast Portland.


EMIL J. VOLL, a retired business agent for the former Portland Food and Drug Clerks Local 1092, died Dec. 22 at age 85 in Oceanside, Calif. He and his wife had moved there in 1996.

He was born Nov. 7, 1914 in Clackamas County's Happy Valley. After World War II service in the U.S. Army, he returned to the retail food industry as a business agent for Local 1092, which now is part of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.

Voll retired from the union in 1969 and moved to Newberg, where he worked in the real estate business and was active as a volunteer in various community projects. In 1979 his community service earned him an award from Governor Vic Atiyeh.

Emil and his wife, the former Thurley Ernest, whom he wed in 1939, moved to southern California to be near their daughter and her family.

Survivors include his wife, their daughter, Gwen Robinson, both of Oceanside; a brother, Albert, of Gresham; a sister, Lydia Douglas, of Tualatin; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Burial was in Willamette National Cemetery in southeast Portland with arrangements by Mt. Scott Funeral Home. Memorial contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church of Newberg. The family said a memorial service is planned in Newberg in the spring.


POPULIST COMMENTATOR Jim Hightower's newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, provided the following report on the chicken industry: "The chicken has become the most dangerous animal in the U.S. This humble bird is now subjected to such an inhumane, industrialized processing system that it now commonly comes to your table contaminated with such bacterial killers as salmonella and E.coli. But less reported is the fact that 40,000 workers will be injured this year as they grapple with the eight billion chickens that zip along the conveyor belts of America's poultry plants. These workers, who typically are paid only $6.50 an hour, have 16 times the national average of trauma injuries. It's hard to get workers to do these awful jobs, so processors like Tyson and Kentucky Fried are pressuring Congress to create an 'guest worker' program so impoverished immigrants can be brought in to do their dirty work."


Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.