Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

April 4, 2003

DICK EDGINGTON of Portland, a member of Chemical Workers Local 109 for 27 years, stands in the spotlight as the newest member of the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council's Labor Hall of Fame. The 63-year-old retiree held offices from shop steward to president in Local 109.

In his years as a #109 member, Edgington worked as an operator in a chemical plant in Northwest Portland that had several different names but was longest known as Pennwalt Chemical. It produced chlorine, ammonia, hydrochloric acid and DDT. When the plant closed in 2001, it was owned by a French firm, Atofina, and went by that name. High electric power rates caused the shutdown.

Local 109 was chartered in 1947 as an affiliate of the Chemical Workers International Union, based in Akron, Ohio. After the Atofina plant closed, #109 merged with a Tacoma local; later the CWIU merged with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Edgington said. For many years, Local 109 had represented 700 members who were employed at five companies. A PORTLAND NATIVE, Richard E. Edgington was born on Dec. 28, 1939 and grew up in the St. Johns district of North Portland and on the city's west side. He was one of seven siblings - five girls and two boys. Their father, Ed Edgington, worked as a logger and was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World - known as the Wobblies. Dick lettered in football and wrestling at Benson Technical High School. His prowess as a pulling guard earned him a football scholarship to Linfield College in McMinnville. He left college to enlist in the Marine Corps and became a drill instructor at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot. After his hitch in the Marines he joined the Air Force. He spent nearly seven years in the military, leaving as a sergeant.

Before he joined the Marines, Dick married Karin Bressie. They've been wed nearly 45 years and have a son, Rick, and a daughter, Sandy. Rick, a graduate of the University of Oregon, is a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Sandy, who graduated from San Jose State in California, is a high-tech engineer working in San Jose's Silicon Valley.

UPON HIS RETURN to Portland after his Air Force duty, Edgington resumed his college studies by enrolling at Portland State. To support his family he worked the graveyard shift at the Multnomah Plywood plant where he pulled the green chain and joined the Woodworkers Union. In 1968, a job opened up at the chemical plant and Dick started a new career as a member of Local 109.

Edgington became involved in all phases of Local 109's operations in representing its members. That involvement included being a delegate to the Multnomah County Labor Council and its successor, the four-county, Portland-based Northwest Oregon Labor Council, and he also was a delegate to the Portland Metal Trades Council, Oregon AFL-CIO conventions and international conventions of the Chemical Workers.

DICK WAS PARTICULARLY focused on safety, health and workers' compensation insurance issues and chaired a committee on those related subjects for the Oregon AFL-CIO. He fought against passage at a 1990 special session of the Oregon Legislature at Salem of a so-called workers' compensation "reform" which was pushed by then-Governor Neil Goldschmidt and current Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who then was the official in charge of workers' "comp" in the Goldschmidt Administration. Dick and other union leaders regarded the legislation as slanted against the interests of workers.

FOR A TIME in the 1980s, Edgington took a leave of absence from Pennwalt to work as an international representative for the Chemical Workers Union. He lobbied at the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., on job safety and health issues and on the need for affordable power rates for plants in the chemical, aluminum and other industries. His assignments also included working on organizing campaigns in various states.

EDGINGTON SERVED on the Oregon Wage and Hour Commission in the late 1980s and early '90s. He was appointed by Gov. Vic Atiyeh and chaired the panel, which is part of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The commission's duties include setting standards for working conditions for minors and granting specific exceptions to child labor laws.

In the late 1970s, Edgington participated in the administration of the Pacific Northwest Labor College (PNLC), a Portland-based school for workers that was run by unions. He taught classes and was a member of PNLC's board of directors.

FOLLOWING HIS RETIREMENT from the Atofina plant in 1995, Edgington worked for a year and a half as a labor liaison for the Oregon Safety and Health Division which administers the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Edgington feels strongly that injured workers don't get a square deal from the workers' compensation insurance system in Oregon and also in other states. "The insurance companies and employers are ripping off workers," he said. He speaks on job health and safety and workers' compensation to meetings of local unions whose members want to know more about those important subjects.


BILL HUBBELL, a leader of the International Woodworkers of America and of the merged IWA-Machinists, died March 8 at the age of 71. His funeral service was held March 13 at the New Life Foursquare Church in Canby.

Wilson Jesse (Bill) Hubbell Jr. was born in Wiggins, Colorado, on Jan. 26, 1932. He served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Montrose and was the coxswain of a landing craft that was part of an invasion at Inchon in the Korean War.

He married Betty June Holmes in 1951 and they had three daughters, Debra, Sharon and Janet. HUBBELL WORKED for 23 years for the Weyerhaeuser Company in Coos Bay as a choker setter, hook tender and crummy driver. He was a member of IWA Local 3-261 in North Bend and served the union in every capacity from shop steward to president.

In 1977, he started working for IWA Regional Council 3 at its Gladstone headquarters as director of safety and education. Within a year he was appointed Region 3's fourth vice president. He was elected president in 1986 and held that post until 1994 when the IWA affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. At that time he was appointed as an administrative assistant to Machinists International President George Kourpias and became the coordinator for the Western, Midwestern and Southern Districts of the Woodworkers.

BILL WAS A charter member of the Forest Products Industry National Labor-Management Committee in Washington, D.C. The committee is a coalition of labor and management officials seeking better timber harvest practices and supply through lobbying efforts.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Machinists-founded Guide Dogs of America, 13445 Glenoaks Blvd., Sylmar, Calif. 91342, or to Special Olympics of Oregon, 3165 NW Yeon St., Portland, Ore. 97210-1521.


CORRECTION: In this space in the March 21 issue there was a report on the founding of Laborers Local 483 which said the Labor History Calendar listed the union's birthdate as March 14, 1928. Wayne Marine, business manager of Municipal Employees Local 483, said the calendar was in error and that the union was founded on May 14, 1928. Local 483 was the first union to represent city workers in Portland. It was founded by James T. Marr and other employees of the Portland Parks Bureau.


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