Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

February 7, 2003

THE NORTHWEST Oregon Labor Retirees Council has focused its spotlight on Jerry Bruce in electing him to its Labor Hall of Fame. Bruce, who turns 67 next month, is a retired business manager of Portland-based Local 48 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Bruce, of Gresham, retired in June of 2000 after holding Local 48's top job for nearly five years. While he was the union's leader, it opened a new Union Hall at 15937 NE Airport Way and an adjoining Training Center at 16021 NE Airport Way - near the Portland International Airport.

Gerald Dennis Bruce was born in Portland on March 4, 1936. He attended Franklin and Lincoln high schools, then joined the United States Army in 1953, serving at two California bases - Camp Roberts and Fort Ord. After his hitch was up, Bruce returned to Portland and went to work assembling beer signs at Columbia Neon for 75 cents an hour. A Local 48 business agent, Herman Teeple, signed him up as a member. Subsequently, Bruce qualified for a state license as a sign industry electrician. Teeple later became Local 48's business manager and went on to be appointed as an IBEW international representative, retiring in 1987.

AFTER WORKING three years at the sign company, Bruce relocated to Stockton, Calif., where he found a job as an electrician in the construction industry. He obtained enough experience there to return to Oregon in 1964 and pass the state test for an inside wireman's journeyman license. Then he went back to the Portland sign industry and worked there until 1975 when he was hired as an inside wireman in the construction industry.

Bruce became active in Local 48, winning election to the Executive Board in the late 1970s. He was elected as Local 48's president in 1983 and won re-election in 1986. He also was elected to the board of the Local 48 Federal Credit Union, since renamed the IBEW & United Workers Federal Credit Union, reflecting a greatly expanded membership base. In 1986, Ed Barnes, then Local 48's business manager, hired Bruce as a business representative.

"I'M PROUD of my activity on Local 48's apprenticeship and training committees for the sign industry and the inside wiremen," Bruce told the Northwest Labor Press. For a time he worked as an instructor at the Portland Metro Training Center operated by IBEW Local 48 and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). He graduated from the IBEW's National Training Center at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville after attending summer classes for four years. He later served on the IBEW's National Apprenticeship and Training Council. He attended labor education classes at the national AFL-CIO's George Meany Institute at Silver Spring, Maryland, and also at the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center in Eugene. When Ed Barnes retired in 1995, Greg Teeple succeeded him as business manager of Local 48 but left soon afterwards to accept an appointment as an IBEW international representative based in Northern California. The Local 48 Executive Board selected Jerry Bruce as the union's new business manager to fill out Teeple's term. Bruce was elected to a full term in 1998.

AS THE LEADER of Local 48, Bruce represented the union and its members on the executive boards of several labor organizations including the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Columbia-Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council. He served as a trustee of Local 48's Edison Pension Trust and its Harrison Health & Welfare Trust, and the IBEW's 9th District Pension Trust. Bruce also was a member of the International Advisory Committee to the IBEW president.

BRUCE HELPED DEVELOP a "partnering program" between Local 48 and the Portland-based NECA chapter. "We need each other for mutual gain," he said. He is an advocate of labor-management programs, noting that they contribute to generating higher market share for union contractors, which means more jobs for IBEW members. He received the first national IBEW/NECA labor-management cooperation award. Since his retirement he has taught labor-management partnering classes at IBEW locals in the West.

Looking back on his career, Bruce said, "I would be nothing without Local 48. I thank and appreciate all the leaders of Local 48 who preceded me. Local 48 has a great reputation because of them."

Bruce's recreation pursuits include golf, fishing and hunting, plus travel with his wife of 31 years, the former Sandra Sutton, who hails from Vernonia. She works as an executive assistant at the IBEW/NECA Metro Training Center and is a Local 48 member. Bruce has three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage - Robert, Stephen, Gerald Jr. and Rene, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

MOTORCYCLE RIDING has been one of his passions for decades. He used to participate in motorcycle races in Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho. He belongs to THE HOG, which stands for The Harley Owners Group. He plans to travel with them to Milwaukee in August for the 100th anniversary of the Harley-Davidson Company in the Wisconsin city.


"PASS THE SLEAZE, PLEASE" was the headline in The Washington Spectator newsletter for this report:

"Business Week has complied a list of the 'household gifts' that Dennis Koslowski, the ex-CEO of telecom giant Tyco International, gave himself while in his chief executive officer post at his sprawling corporation. They were all paid for out of the $600 million he snatched from Tyco. The shopping list: $15,000 for an umbrella stand; $6,300 for a sewing basket; $6,000 for a bathroom shower curtain; $2,200 for a waste basket; $1,650 for a notebook; and $445 for a pincushion.

"Rich? Yes he was. But you don't have to be a millionaire to do an SUV rip-off. By slipping through federal tax loopholes, small business owners and the well-off self-employed can buy gas-guzzling $48,800 sport utility vehicles for only $13,500, using some little-known tax deductions discovered by the Detroit News. If the Hummer, the Cadillac Escalade or the Ford Excursion is alleged to be used for tax-deductible 'business purposes,' Uncle Sam pays more than half the sticker price. The biggest part of this tax goodie was put in the Bush Administration's 'economic stimulus package' passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attack. That truly gave away the store, and few of us were the wiser."


AMERICA@WORK, the national AFL-CIO's magazine, reports on the publication of a new book entitled "A job to die for: Why so many Americans are killed, injured or made ill at work and what to do about it." The author is Lisa Cullen. America@Work said of the book:

"Each day 165 Americans die from occupational diseases and 18 more die from a work-related injury - at a cost of $155.5 billion annually, according to 'A job to die for.' Cullen exposes the dangerous conditions in U.S. workplaces and details how government agencies and industry lobbyists have worked hand-in-hand to undermine protection for workers."

Cullen's book is available in paperback for $17.95 and in hardback for $29.95. The publisher, Common Courage Press, can be reached by phone at 207-525-0900 or online at www.commoncouragepress.com.


Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.