Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

March 3, 2000

DOUGLAS G. ELLIS, a 60-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), joined Labor's Hall of Fame via the selection process of the sponsoring Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, AFL-CIO. The retirees choose their honorees at their monthly meetings in the board room of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland.

In the course of his long career, Ellis, 87, belonged to IBEW Locals 48, 49 and 125, to Auto Mechanics Local 1005, and to the Oregon State Employees Association which became Oregon Public Employees Union/Service Employees Local 503.

He was born Douglas Gardiner Ellis in Portland on Feb. 11, 1913. His first name was the last name of his paternal grandfather and his middle name was his mother's maiden name. He attended Ports-mouth Grade School and got his diploma from Roosevelt High School. He studied parliamentary law, economics, politics and union history in an adult night school. One of his instructors was Volney Martin of Painters Local 10, a leader in city and state labor circles.

ELLIS ACQUIRED SKILLS in repairing autos from a neighbor, a retired railroad engineer who fixed cars in his back yard. He remembers the neighbor using a horse to pull a broken-down l910 Cadillac home in 1930. The neighbor taught Doug the names and uses of the various tools he used in restoring old cars to running condition.

"My first significant job," Ellis said, "was working at a bicycle shop where I repaired radios and bikes." That was in the early 1930s.

His next job was in an automotive bearing service shop. When the employer reduced wages from 50 cents an hour to 45 cents, Ellis and his shopmates joined Auto Mechanics Local 1005 of the Machinists Union. In 1939, after several years in that job, Ellis left to take employment at Black-Frost Electric where he began an apprenticeship in radio repair and joined IBEW Local 48's "D" Division. Three years later he became service manager of a downtown retail store which sold musical instruments and radios. From that job Ellis went into business for himself, opening a union-contract radio and appliance repair shop on Portland's inner east side near what's now the Lloyd Center. He sold the shop in 1946 when he was elected as the business representative of Local 48's radio service division.

ELLIS NEXT MOVED to the Oregon Bureau of Labor to become a field representative for the director of apprenticeship, Norman O. Nilsen, a union plumber who later served five four-year terms as the elected Democratic state labor commissioner. Ellis had a background in apprenticeship and training, having served on the apprenticeship committees of Auto Mechanics Local 1005 and IBEW Local 48. Ellis said he regarded the state job as "a good hobby" because it paid only $311 a month plus $25 as "a temporary cost-of-living allowance." When a state-hired "efficiency expert" recommended a cut in pay for the bureau's field staff, Ellis resigned. In 1948 Ellis was hired as a business agent for IBEW Local 49, which had been chartered to serve the miscellaneous occupations in the electrical industry. The business manager of Local 49 was Chuck Hoffman.

When Local 49 lost bargaining rights for a large assembly-line unit in a Portland factory, Ellis and other staff members were laid off. After working at the radio repair trade for a while, Ellis was hired in 1956 by Electrical Workers Local 125 and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) as the director of the Northwest Electrical Line Construction Apprenticeship Committee. After two years in that job he went to Washington, D.C., to work for the IBEW and NECA as director of their National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. When he returned to Portland in 1960 he worked out of Local 48's hiring hall as a marine electrician.

A STATE JOB BECKONED to Ellis in 1961 when his Local 49 colleague, Chuck Hoffman, was appointed as the Bureau of Labor's director of apprenticeship and training by Oregon Labor Commissioner Norm Nilsen. Hoffman hired Ellis as a field representative for the bureau's apprenticeship and training division, a post he held until retiring in 1977 at age 64.

A year after retiring from the Oregon Bureau of Labor, Ellis received an opportunity to move to North Carolina as director of that state's apprenticeship program. He took the new job and relocated to Raleigh. His status as an outsider did not stand him in good stead in the Southern state. After two years in North Carolina, Ellis resigned and returned to Oregon.

In the 20 years since then, he's been active in several organizations advocating for the interests of retired workers. Just last month he attended a conference in Washington, D.C., of the National Conference of Senior Citizens whose president is George Kourpias, a retired international president of the Machinists. Ellis is president of the Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens and also is president of the Oregon Public Employees Union's retired members' organization.

ELLIS STILL MAINTAINS an interest in radios but spends more time on his computer. He bought his first computer nearly 20 years ago. His computer is a useful tool in pursuing one of his hobbies, researching the pre-Columbus history of this country.

Doug and his wife, Maria Luiza, a native of Brazil, live in Portland. He has a daughter, Lorrayne, by a previous marriage. She works for the Oregon Employment Service.


MAURINE NEUBERGER, the only woman elected to represent Oregon in the U.S. Senate, died at age 94 at a Portland nursing home on Feb. 22. Her death was attributed to a bone marrow disorder.

A Democrat, she was elected to the Senate in November 1960, following the death earlier that year of her husband, U.S. Senator Richard L. Neuberger, who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at age 47 while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Mrs. Neuberger served one term, from January 1961 to January 1967. She was only the third woman in U.S. history to win election to the Senate. She did not run for re-election. In her six years on Capitol Hill she was a pioneering consumer advocate against tobacco companies, airlines, auto makers, meat packers and cosmetic firms.

RICHARD AND MAURINE NEUBERGER made political history by serving at the same time in the Oregon Legislature. A nationally-known free-lance writer, Richard was elected to the Oregon House in 1941 before his World War II service as a U.S. Army captain, and won a State Senate seat in 1948. She was elected to the Oregon House in 1950, and both were re-elected in 1952. They represented districts on Portland's west side.

James W. Goodsell of Twisp, Wash., editor of the Labor Press from 1951-65, recalled that both Neubergers compiled 100 percent labor voting records at Salem and on Capitol Hill, and were always endorsed for election by the state labor federation. Born Maurine Brown on Jan. 9, 1906 at Cloverdale in coastal Tillamook County, she became a physical education teacher in Portland Public Schools subsequent to her graduation from the University of Oregon, and later taught English at Lincoln High. She married Dick Neuberger in 1945.

She is survived by three nieces, Ann Goodsell of Cambridge, Mass., Kate Marquez of Klamath Falls, and Molly Goodsell of Boulder, Colo.; two grandnieces and one grandnephew. The nieces, who came to Portland to be with her in her final months, are the daughters of Jim Goodsell and the late Jane Neuberger Goodsell.


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