Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

May 3, 2002

EDWARD L. BARNES, retired business manager of Portland-headquartered International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, stands in the spotlight as the newest member of Labor's Hall of Fame. The Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council originated the Hall of Fame five years ago to honor retired unionists for their accomplishments.

Barnes,who'll turn 69 in a few months, retired from IBEW Local 48's leadership post at the end of 1995, 40 years after he entered the union's apprenticeship program. He was business manager for 12 years.

Retirement for him has meant a busy schedule of volunteer service on labor, governmental and civic boards and committees, continuing the involvement in union and public service activity that marked his working years.

A VANCOUVER RESIDENT, he has served on the Washington State Transportation Commission since l995, which necessitates attending many meetings in Olympia. He co-chairs the I-5 Corridor Committee, a 24-member panel appointed by Washington Governor Gary Locke and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. He also serves on the Vancouver Public Facilities District Board, which is planning a 6,500-seat auditorium and sports facility, and a hotel.

Barnes still is a member of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council Executive Board and the Board of Directors of the Oregon Labor Press Publishing Company, which publishes the Northwest Labor Press. Also, he continues on the board of the Union Labor Retirement Association, which has built the Westmoreland, Marshall and Kirkland Union Manors in Portland and a new Kirkland Union Manor in Vancouver. He regularly attends the breakfast meetings of the Labor Roundtable of Southwest Washington. And, he's also active in other organizations in Vancouver and in Portland, plus participating in various Local 48 committees. He's a Democratic precinct committeeman in Clark County, attends the party's county and state conventions and has been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He's worked on many political campaigns in Washington and Oregon.

OVER THE YEARS, Barnes was a trustee of Local 48's pension, health and welfare, and apprenticeship and training trust funds and the IBEW's 9th District Pension Trust, and served on virtually every committee within the union and held several #48 offices before being elected business manager. He was president of the Columbia-Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council and held leadership positions in the Partners In Construction Committee and in both the Oregon and Washington State Associations of Electrical Workers. He was active in both the Washington and Oregon Building Trades Councils and was a building trades delegate to Russia in a labor exchange program.

At a dinner marking Barnes' retirement as Local 48's leader, the union and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) paid tribute to his "brilliant and productive career in the union electrical industry..." He was credited with fostering "improved labor-management cooperation, increased employment for members, a successful job targeting program, and an innovative joint industry advertising and promotional campaign." He also was praised for his leadership in helping to create the Local 48/NECA five-year apprenticeship program "to train a superior, skilled workforce - a program which has become today's national standard of excellence."

EDWARD LEE BARNES was born on Aug. 19, 1933 in Maidsville, West Virginia, to Jennings and Lena Barnes. The program for his retirement dinner noted that Ed was one of seven children and that his "early years were shaped watching his dad work the dangerous coal mines to feed his family, and fight to gain employment rights, safety, and fair wages for himself and his fellow workers."

Ed's father, a mine electrician, joined the IBEW. In World War II, his father was sent to a job at the then-secret Hanford nuclear facility in Eastern Washington. His family remained in West Virginia. Years later, medical tests showed that Jennings Barnes suffered from radiation sickness and also had black lung disease from his earlier years as a coal miner. After World War lI, Ed's parents moved their family to Riddle, Oregon, near Roseburg, where his father worked for a while before relocating in Vancouver, Washington. Ed attended Shumway Junior High School and Vancouver High, playing baseball, football and basketball, and learning to hunt and fish in the Pacific Northwest's great outdoors. He helped his father build a Methodist Church.

Ed served in the United States Army in the Korean War and earned a battlefield promotion to staff sergeant. He turned down an opportunity to attend the West Point Military Academy and returned home to Vancouver to enter the IBEW apprenticeship program. He began his electrical career working with his father for Donovan Electric at The Dalles Dam.

ED BARNES AND LUANNE WOLFE were married on June 30, 1956. Her father, Vern, was president of Plumbers Local 51, now part of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 290. After living in Portland briefly, they settled in Vancouver and have lived there ever since. While their three sons, Brian, Bradley and Bruce, were growing up, Ed and Luanne were active in the Parent-Teacher Association and Booster Clubs. Ed was a leader in the YMCA, Boy Scouts and Little League. Their sons followed their dad and grandfather into the IBEW. Ed and Luanne have two grandchildren. Luanne Barnes recently retired from the Portland apprenticeship office of the Painters Union. She's a member of Office and Professional Employees Local 11, and is also a member of a singing group.


OREGONIANS FOR HEALTH SECURITY, a non-partisan group that is working with citizens and care-givers to improve access and accountability in our health care system, has a plan to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors and all other Oregonians.

The health security group said this could be done by establishing a bulk purchasing system that would allow labor union health plans, the government, private businesses and individuals to combine their purchasing power to negotiate deep discounts in the prices of prescription drugs. The group also said that a consumer fraud unit should be set up to protect consumers from misleading pharmaceutical advertising.

OREGONIANS FOR HEALTH SECURITY warned Oregon seniors to "cast a discerning eye on the pharmaceutical companies' proposed ballot measure initiative speciously entitled the 'Oregon Senior Citizen Drug Health Plan' for low-income seniors." The health security group continued:

"This initiative would create a drug voucher program for certain low-income seniors who would be given a $600 annual credit to be spent at participating pharmacies. The measure would require taxpayers to fund the program."

The health security committee went on to say: "Recent news reports name the sponsor of the ballot initiative as the Oregon Alliance for Senior Access to Prescriptions, but according to the sponsor's spokesman, the key sponsor is really the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as Ph:RMA."

In other words, the greedy drug companies that have jacked up the prices of prescription drugs to unconscionable highs now propose to give paltry discounts to seniors if the government will foot the bill.

PhRMA, the drug companies' political and lobbying outfit's name is misleading because the "A" stands for America - but in reality many of the major drug corporations are foreign owned.


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