Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

June 16, 2000

HERMAN R. TEEPLE of La Pine, retired international representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and a former business manager of Portland-based IBEW Local 48, takes center stage as the latest retiree tapped for membership in Labor's Hall of Fame.

The hall's sponsor, the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, selects its honorees at its monthly meetings in the board room of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland.

The 77-year-old Teeple and his wife, Betty, whom he married 56 years ago, make their retirement home in La Pine. They live in a chalet on the Little Deschutes River south of Bend. They picked La Pine because its fishing and hunting opportunities made it their favorite vacation destination during their years in Portland.

TEEPLE WAS BORN on Oct. 2, 1922 in Cluny, a community in the Canadian province of Alberta. Before his first birthday his parents moved to Portland. Teeple became a union electrician prior to World War II. After military service in the war, he returned to the Rose City and rejoined IBEW Local 48.

By 1956 Teeple was appointed a business agent for Local 48 and seven years later moved up to business manager, succeeding Hub Harrison, for whom Local 48's health and welfare trust is named. As the union's leader, Teeple's foremost achievement was establishing the nationally-acclaimed Metro Training Center, which is run by IBEW Local 48 and the National Electrical Contractors Association's Oregon Columbia Chapter. Metro Training Center transforms apprentices into skilled electricians and provides journeymen and journeywomen with continuous upgrading of their skills to equip them for the rapid advances in the technology of the electrical industry. As business manager, Teeple served on the union's pension and health and welfare trust funds. He negotiated Local 48's Edison Pension Fund.

During his years as Local 48's leader, Teeple played an influential role in city and state labor organizations. He brought broad knowledge and good judgment to meetings of the executive panel of the Portland area central labor council, which is now named the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. His voice of common sense was heard loud and clear at meetings and conventions of the Columbia-Pacific and Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Councils and the Oregon AFL-CIO. He was an officer of the Union Labor Retirement Association, which has built five Union Manor apartment complexes in the Portland area for retired workers. He was an officer in the state association of IBEW locals and was a trustee of the Oregon Labor Press Publishing Company, the 100-year-old non-profit corporation that publishes the NW Labor Press.

TEEPLE'S MAJOR CONTRIBUTION to politics was influencing the Portland-area AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education to endorse Democrat Neil Goldschmidt for the non-partisan office of city commissioner in the 1970 elections. Labor's backing helped the 29-year-old Legal Aid lawyer win in a crowded race for an open seat on the Portland City Council. In ensuing years, Goldschmidt went on to be mayor, U.S. transportation secretary and governor. When Teeple retired in 1987, Governor Goldschmidt proclaimed Herman Teeple Day in Oregon.

Because of his accomplishments at Local 48, the IBEW appointed Teeple as an international representative based in Portland. He held that job from 1971 until his retirement. A November 1987 dinner marking Herman's retirement was attended by several hundred representatives of labor, management and government.

Unionism runs deep in the Teeple family. Herman's father, also named Herman Teeple, worked as a union cook at a well-known Portland restaurant of yesteryear named Larry Hilaire's, then went on to a career as a business agent for Cooks and Assistants Local 207. Hall of Famer Teeple and wife Betty have a son, Greg, who's an IBEW international representative in California and is a former Local 48 business manager; and a daughter, Anita Stammer, who's executive assistant to Local 48 Business Manager Jerry Bruce. A grandson, Shon Teeple, Greg's son, is a Local 48 member who's a general foreman for a Portland NECA member. A granddaughter, Jennie Roth, who is Anita's daughter, is a secretary in Seattle for the Pacific Northwest District Council of Carpenters and is a member of Office Employees Local 23. All told, Herman and Betty have four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


MILLIONAIRE FRANK EISENZIMMER of Boring, who formed Oregon Taxpayers United and hired William Lee Sizemore as its front man, had a letter to the editor in the Portland daily defending term limits and complaining that Oregon legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, bring about "higher taxes and more laws, further restricting our liberties. Athletic club magnate Eisenzimmer identified himself as "chief petitioner for term limits measure."

If term limits are good for elected officials, then they should also be good for the unelected millionaires and their shadowy organizations who finance ballot measures as a way of passing state laws advancing their private political agendas.

After Eisenzimmer, Sizemore, et al, have put their political measures on the ballot for three successive election cycles, then they should be term-limited from circulating any initiative petitions for the next three election cycles.

We could all enjoy a break from unelected law-givers like Eisenzimmer, Sizemore, millionaires Loren Parks, Robert Randall, Mark Hemstreet and Don McIntire, and the homophobic Lon Mabon, plus others of their ilk.


NEWS TRAVELS FASTER from the East to the West than from the West to the East. A comment to that effect was made by one of California's governors, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, a Democrat who held the chief executive's office in Sacramento from the 1950s into the 1960s. He was the father of Jerry Brown, a former Golden State governor who's now mayor of Oakland.

Pat Brown's observation came to mind last week when I watched a video on labor martyr Joe Hill produced by Salt Lake City public television station KUED. Production of the program was funded in part by telephone company US West's Foundation. Hill, a Swedish-born labor songwriter and organizer for the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World), was executed by the State of Utah in 1915 after being convicted in an unjust trial for two robbery-murders he almost certainly didn't commit.

What brought Governor Brown's comment to mind was some Utah labor history in the Joe Hill video. The narrator reported that on May 1, 1900 more than 200 workers died in a coal mine explosion in Scofield, which is a town in central Utah. About 300 men were working in the mine at the time. More than 60 of those killed were recent immigrants from Finland. The narrator said the Pleasant Valley Coal Co., the mine's owner, furnished a suit and a coffin for each victim, paid $500 to the family of each miner killed and forgave the families' debts to the company store.

HAVING NEVER HEARD of the Scofield mine disaster before, I rewound and replayed that portion of the video. Then I started checking in half a dozen or so reference books, all published in the East, for information about the miners' deaths at Scofield. Nothing. All mentioned the tragic 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire in New York City in which more than 150 women and girls died. But news of the deaths of more than 200 miners in remote Utah apparently never reached the eastern publishers of the reference books.

I recalled Pat Brown's long ago statement and thought anew how perceptive he was. But I also thought how much of labor's history simply doesn't exist for many publishers of reference books. In that same vein, much of the news of the labor movement simply doesn't exist for today's newspapers and television news programs.


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