Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

April 16, 1999

"SOCIAL SECURITY reduces the proportion of elderly people living in poverty from nearly one in two to fewer than one in eight," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research organization in Washington, D.C.

In Oregon, two of five elderly people are lifted from poverty by Social Security monthly benefits, the study reported. In Washington State, Social Security saves one in three elderly from a life of poverty.

Nationwide, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found that in 1997 "nearly half of all elderly people - 47.6 percent - had incomes below the poverty line before receipt of Social Security benefits. After receiving Social Security benefits, only 11.9 percent remained poor.


"Social Security raised out of poverty more than one in every three elderly Americans. The program lifted 11.4 million elderly people above the poverty line.

"Without Social Security, 15.3 million elderly had incomes below the poverty line. After Social Security, only 3.8 million elderly did. Three-fourths of those elderly people who would have been poor without Social Security were lifted from poverty by it.

"The study, 'Social Security and Poverty Among the Elderly,' found Social Security's effects in shrinking poverty to be most striking among elderly women. Seven million of 1.4 million elderly people whom Social Security lifted from poverty in 1997 - more than 60 percent - were women...

"THE STUDY ALSO FOUND that Social Security has a much larger effect in reducing elderly poverty than all other government programs combined. Of the 12.9 million elderly people lifted from poverty by the full array of government benefit programs, 11.4 million - nearly 90 percent - are lifted out by Social Security..."

In its state-by-state estimates of Social Security's impact, the CBPP study was based on the U.S. Census Bureau's annual Current Population Survey for the years from 1993 through 1997.

CPBB's study of Oregon made these points:

Social Security reduces the number of elderly people who live in poverty from 174,000 to 25,000, lifting 149,000 out of poverty. Without Social Security, 46 percent of the elderly would be poor. Social Security reduces the elderly poverty rate to 7 percent, a reduction of six-sevenths. The 149,000 elderly whom Social Security lifts from poverty represent 40 percent of all people age 65 and over in the state. Three of every five elderly whom Social Security lifts from poverty are women.

FOR WASHINGTON STATE, the study showed:

Social Security reduces the number of elderly people who live in poverty from 237,000 to 54,000, lifting 183,000 out of poverty. Without Social Security, 42 percent of the elderly would be poor. Social Security reduces the elderly poverty rate to 9 percent, a reduction of nearly four-fifths. The 183,000 elderly whom Social Security lifts from poverty represent 33 percent of all people age 65 or older.


BILL PERRIN, a founder and first president of the Portland-headquartered Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW), died on March 24 at age 89 in Colorado Springs. Perrin recently moved from his longtime home in Lake Oswego to the Colorado city where his son John lives. His death was said to be due to age-related causes.

He was born William Roy Perrin in Syracuse, N.Y., on Oct. 19, 1909. His father, a union railroad fireman, moved the family to Oregon to take up farming when Bill was of pre-school age. For many years the senior Perrin operated the Dominican Fathers' farm at Marylhurst.

After high school, Bill studied journalism at what's now Oregon State University in Corvallis, but when he graduated in 1933, newspaper jobs were scarce because of the Great Depression. He worked on the farm with his father until 1936, when a job opened up at the Crown Zellerbach paper mill in nearby West Linn. Hired as a helper in the electrical department, Bill was enrolled in a training program that eventually qualified him as an electrician. In World War II he left for U.S. Army infantry service.

PERRIN JOINED Local 68 of the Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers, which represented workers at the mill. He was president of the local from 1947 until 1964, when he was elected the AWPPW president. He became a prominent figure in the labor movement. He was elected secretary-treasurer and later president of the Clackamas County Labor Council at Oregon City. He served on the executive board of the state labor federation and from the late 1950s to the mid-'60s he was on the board of the non-profit Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co.

The AWPPW was formed 35 years ago this month in a revolt by Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska local union leaders against their two international unions - the Pulp, Sulphite Workers and the United Papermakers and Paperworkers. The local union delegates walked out of 1964 regional collective bargaining negotiations with paper industry management in the Portland Masonic Temple because representatives of the two AFL-CIO-affiliated internationals countermanded the authority of the local union delegates to conduct the labor-side negotiations. In September 1964 after a hard-fought campaign, the AWPPW won a National Labor Relations Board bargaining rights election over the two internationals. The new Portland-based independent union was chosen by 24,000 Western paper mill workers to represent them in bargaining with 20 forest products companies.

THE AWPPW immediately ran into trouble negotiating a first contract with mill owners, who underestimated the new union's moxie and its president's political and labor contacts. First, the U.S. Labor Department in Democratic President Lyndon Johnson's Administration stepped in and asked AWPPW negotiators and mill management to conduct their stalled collective bargaining in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service's top brass. Then, Perrin played his trump card - the support of Teamsters International President James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most powerful union leaders in the nation. Hoffa helped the fledgling union at the behest of his top aide in Oregon - International Representative Clyde Crosby, who was a longtime friend and ally of Perrin's in Clackamas County labor politics. After it dawned on the paper mill bosses that Hoffa could stop deliveries in and out of their mills, they started negotiating in earnest and the AWPPW soon obtained its first labor agreement. In recent years, the AWPPW became a division of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.

After serving three years as the AWPPW's president, Perrin was defeated in his bid for re-election and returned to the West Linn mill where he'd started his career. He retired from there in 1974. He then became active in the Oregon Council of Senior Citizens and the American Association of Retired Persons and lobbied for the two organizations at the Oregon Legislature in Salem.

In 1997 the Northwest Oregon Retirees Council honored Perrin by electing him to its Labor Hall of Fame. In 1998 the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association designated him as its Labor History Person of the Year.

PERRIN'S WIFE of 52 years, the former LaVeve Good, a high school teacher, died in 1993. He is survived by their two sons, John, a lawyer in Colorado Springs, and Bill, a construction project manager based in London; and six grandchildren.

Perrin was buried April 5 in Willamette National Cemetery in southeast Portland with arrangements handled by the Hillside Funeral Chapel in Oregon City. A memorial service was conducted on April 10 at Zion Lutheran Church in Oregon City.


Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.