Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

February 1, 2002

THE NORTHWEST OREGON Labor Retirees Council has tapped Hugh Norby, 65, of Newberg, for membership in Labor's Hall of Fame. Norby retired in 1989 as secretary-treasurer of Portland Printing Pressmen's Local 43.

Norby retired when Local 43 was merged into District Council 2 of the Graphic Communications International Union. He held Local 43's leadership post from 1980 until the merger.

Since leaving the union job, Norby has devoted his full time to what previously had been his spare-time avocation: raising beef cattle and quarter horses on his farm near Newberg. He has lived there since 1969. For a time he entered horses in races at the Portland Meadows track, and competed in wild horse events at rodeos.

BEFORE HIS ELECTION as Local 43's secretary-treasurer, Norby had worked for 16 years as a pressman, operating Miehle and Heidelberg presses at the Sweeney, Krist & Dimm printing company, where he was chapel chairman, the printing trades' term for bargaining unit chair. That firm, now out of business, was located on NW 16th Avenue near Hoyt Street. Earlier, he was employed at a Fibreboard plant at SE 24th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard, first as a member of the Pulp, Sulphite Union and later as a member of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers.

Norby was born on Oct. 8, 1936 at Spring Valley, Minnesota, in the southeastern part of the state near the Iowa border. His family moved to Vancouver, Wash., when he was five and he grew up there, graduating from Vancouver High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1956 and served three years in an Army Airborne unit. He was stationed in Germany for two years.

Hugh and his wife Susan have three sons, two daughters and six grandchildren.

LABOR'S HALL OF FAME was established in 1997 by the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council to salute retired union members for their contributions to the labor movement and their work on behalf of the members of their unions. The retirees are affiliated with the Northwest Oregon Labor Council of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The retirees hold their monthly meetings in the boardroom at NOLC's offices at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland.


THE CONGENITAL ANTI-UNIONISM of Presidents George Bush I and II manifested itself again last month when Bush II set forth an executive order prohibiting labor unions from representing employees at United States attorneys' offices and at four other agencies in the Justice Department.

Reporting on Bush's action, the New York Times said: "Although federal law bans strikes by federal employees, White House officials said Mr. Bush had issued his order out of concern that union contracts could restrict the ability of workers in the Justice Department to protect Americans and national security.

"THE ORDER, issued on Jan. 7, has angered unions, which say the president is exploiting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 to pursue a campaign against unions. The order bars representation for more than 500 workers at the United States attorneys' offices, the criminal division, the National Drug Intelligence Center, the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review and the National Central Bureau of Interpol."

THE N.Y. TIMES QUOTED Steven Kreisberg, associate director for collective bargaining at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, as saying that "unionization in no way threatened national security."

Continuing, the newspaper reported: " 'We're outraged by this,' said Mr. Kreisberg, whose union represents more than 300 employees in the Justice Department, including secretaries, file clerks and messengers.

" 'A lot of these Justice Department workers have been members of unions for 20 years,' he said, 'and there's never been an allegation of a problem. It's a very cynical use of the Sept. 11 tragedy by an anti-union administration.' "

That last sentence pretty much salts the pretzel.


IN THE MEDIA COVERAGE of the 60th anniversary of Japan's sneak attack on Dec. 7, 1941 against the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a number of stories and editorials in newspapers and on television news shows failed to identify the attacking nation.

Perhaps because Japan is now a friendly nation and a trading partner, some media minds decided it would not be politically correct to say it was Japan that did the attacking on Pearl Harbor.


IN THE SAME VEIN, media references to the arming of anti-Soviet Afghanistan fighters by the United States in the early 1980s omit a major fact. The references to the past say that the Central Intelligence Agency armed the Afghans but omit the fact that the CIA was acting on orders from the then-occupant of the White House, Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Thanks to Reagan and his coterie of foreign policy advisers, itinerant Saudi millionaire terrorist Osama bin Laden and his zealots were well-supplied with anti-aircraft stingers and warehouses full of other high-tech weaponry straight from the Pentagon's inventory.


SPEAKING OF AFGHANISTAN, that land-locked Asian country was once so unheard-of that a half-century ago it gave rise to a term, Afghanistanism, that was used in newspaper circles in the United States.

A press critic coined the word to describe the editorial policies of timid newspapers, usually in small towns, that did not print editorials about hot issues in their own circulation areas because they did not want to offend public officials, civic leaders or blocs of readers. Instead, the skittish editors of those newspapers wrote editorials about events and issues in distant cities, states and countries. Because Afghanistan was so remote from the United States, the critic, whose name I can't recall, wrote an article in a magazine which said editors who wrote editorials mostly about issues in distant places were practicing Afghanistanism. In the past two decades, however, Afghanistan, while still geographically remote from the U.S., is much closer in our thinking.


AS THE ENORMITY of the Enron Corporation's scandalous collapse unfolded last month, Ari Fleischer, the press secretary for the Geo. Bush II White House, issued a statement that reeked of hypocrisy. A news service reported that "Fleischer warned Democrats this morning against investigations into the Bush Administration's dealings with Enron." The news service then quoted Fleischer as saying: "The American people are tired of partisan witch-hunts and endless investigations."

On top of that, Republicans in Congress also warned Democrats against trying to make a partisan issue out of the Enron debacle. Kenneth Lay, longtime boss of the Texas energy trader, was for years the biggest money-giver to Geo.W. Bush from when he started out in politics in Texas until the Republican majority on the U. S. Supreme Court made him president.

From Democratic President Bill Clinton's election in 1992 and even after his departure from office at the end of his second term in early 2001, Republicans yapped at him - engaging in what Bush II's press secretary called "partisan witch-hunts and endless investigations."


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