Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

June 21, 2002

TOM DREW of Portland, a retired federal mediator who is a former local union president and international union representative, has earned a place in the Northwest Oregon Labor Retiree Council's Labor Hall of Fame.

The 66-year-old Drew was voted into the Labor Hall of Fame by the retirees council at a meeting in the boardroom of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland. The Hall of Fame was started in 1997 to give recognition to retired unionists for their contributions to the labor movement and to the public good.

Drew retired in 1999 from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service's Portland office where he had served for 21 years. He was assigned to the agency's office in his hometown in 1978 after receiving his training in Seattle in 1977. As was noted in the Northwest Labor Press when he retired, his professional skills as a mediator gained him praise from both labor and management negotiators.

THOMAS EDWARD DREW was born in the Rose City on Oct. 19, 1935 and grew up in North Portland. His father, George T. Drew, was a bus driver for Rose City Transit Company, a predecessor to the Tri-Met Transit District, and was a member of Amalgamated Transit Local 757. His mother, Alice Drew, was an expert weaver and taught adults how to use a loom in classes sponsored by the Portland Parks Bureau.

Tom attended Holy Cross Grade School and Central Catholic High School, then transferred to Benson Technical High School from which he graduated in 1953. After graduation, he worked at Crown-Zellerbach's Western Wax plant as a member of the AFL-CIO Pulp, Sulphite Union, followed by three years in the United States Navy. He saw duty on a destroyer which plied the Pacific Ocean's western waters.

After Tom's Navy service, he found a job at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph where he worked for two years as a member of the Communications Workers of America.

DREW'S NEXT JOB launched him on a career that led to his becoming a federal mediator. In 1958 he was employed at the Pennwalt industrial chemical plant in North Portland and joined Chemical Workers Local 109. He soon became a shop steward, then was elected recording secretary and quickly moved up to president and business agent. By 1967 the International Chemical Workers Union, headquartered in Akron, Ohio, appointed him to its staff, first as an organizer and soon afterwards as its international representative for Oregon and Southwest Washington.

A 1969 strike by about 70 of Local 109's members tested Drew's leadership abilities as he and the strikers successfully fought off outside organizations. The Local 109 members struck the Lloyd Fry roofing plant and a subsidiary, Volney Felt Mills. A Hells Angels motorcycle gang from Oakland, Calif., scabbed for a while but when Drew refused to help them obtain shipyard jobs in return for their leaving Fry, the bikers went back to California. Simultaneously, radical college students and political activists sought to take over Local 109's picket line to publicize their own far-left agenda, but Drew and the strikers chased them off, too. Eventually, the Midwest-owned Fry and Volney shops closed down to spite the striking Portland workers.

DREW'S JOB with the Chemical Workers took him to Los Angeles to serve locals in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Next came an assignment to Kansas City Missouri, to help locals in that state plus those in Kansas and Nebraska.

In 1973, the Chemical Workers reassigned Drew to Los Angeles. In the course of his work representing Southern California locals, Drew met a federal mediator who suggested that he apply for a job with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Drew did so in 1977 and was hired, then sent to Seattle for training, followed by 21 years of duty at the Portland office.

DREW'S HOBBIES include boating, golfing, collecting fine wines, and listening to classical music.

Recently, he's also developed another interest - restoring a 1936 Oldsmobile three-window coupe with a rumble seat, a collaborative project with two other retired unionists.

Tom and his wife, Linda, have enjoyed extensive travel since his retirement. He said they've visited every continent on the face of the globe except Antarctica.

Drew has three sons from a previous marriage. They are Daniel, Sean and Kevin, who've given him six grandchildren.

LOOKING BACK at his life, Drew observed:

"I've always been proud of the part the labor movement has played in my career. I'm proud of the fact that I'm a product of the labor movement and the collective bargaining system. I've enjoyed a 40-year career with the collective bargaining system, and I'm proud of Portland's collective bargaining people on both sides of the table."


"TOP CORPORATE executives now rake in incomes that are 531 times the pay of the average worker," said The Washington Spectator newsletter. It credited Business Week magazine with the mathematics. The Washington Spectator said further that CEOs (chief executive officers) are paid twice - "with tricky stock options worth millions, on top of multimillion-dollar salaries."


"GOING POSTAL, The Tip of the Iceberg" is the title of a book written by Al Ainsworth, a retired activist in Portland Branch 82 of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). "True Stories & Tragedies In The Everyday Lives Of Our Letter Carriers & Clerks" are additional words on the book's cover that tell what's inside the 172-page paperback.

Brother Ainsworth describes his book as "a tough-minded look at current conditions in the Postal Service. The book is about an abused and frustrated workforce and a hostile work environment as told by victims through grievances, arbitrations and civil court cases. The book is destined to instigate changes in the way the United States Postal Service manages its employees."

Ainsworth delivered mail in Portland for 25 years and held many offices in NALC Branch 82. His union posts included: Trustee, 1981-82; editor, 1987-88 and 1997-2001; Executive Board, 1989-90; steward and alternate steward, 1978-2000. He also served Branch 82 in other capacities and was a delegate to state and national NALC conventions.

WITHIN THE POSTAL SERVICE, Ainsworth also was active in these ways: Member of the Multnomah Station's Employee Involvement Work Team; alternate facilitator of Multnomah Station's Work Team; member of the Portland Local Joint Steering Committee for Employee Involvement; helped develop the Work Environment Leadership System; served in a joint labor-management program called Work Environment Coordinators; and completed several workshops on dispute resolution and dealing with difficult people."

Ainsworth's book has attracted national attention among postal unions. For example, the Virginia Rural Letter Carriers Association's Newsletter had this to say, in part, of "Going Postal": "...The 20-plus-chapter book begins with an overview of the work environment, follows with stories of embattled employees in a toxic work environment and closes with information on how to cope with conflicts and how to resolve conflicts ... 'Going Postal' is a landmark book..." Ainsworth said his book is available through Chewah Publishing, 10345 SW Ridgeview Lane, Portland, Oregon 97219, for $16.95 plus $4.95 for mailing.

It's a first-class book that merits a stamp of approval.


Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.