Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

July 18, 1997

SHIRLEY GOLD, teacher, union leader, Democratic Party activist and state legislator, becomes the latest person named by the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council to its Oregon Labor Hall of Fame.

The retirees are affiliated with the Portland-based Northwest Oregon Labor Council, the AFL-CIO central labor council for Multnomah, Washington, Columbia and Clackamas countries.

The Oregon Labor Hall of Fame was established to recognize the accomplishments of retired labor movement activists.

SHIRLEY GOLD taught at Portland's Lewis and Duniway elementary schools for 15 years after moving here 50 years ago from New York City, where she received a bachelor of arts degree from Hunter College. She earned a master's degree in teaching from Portland's Reed College.

Long active in Portland Federation of Teachers Local 111, she served seven years as its president and then for five years was president of the Oregon Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

During those 12 years she lobbied at the Oregon Legislature in Salem for teachers and other public employees and was involved in the passage of legislation in fields such as public employment, health services, retirement, education for the handicapped, multi-cultural education and employment security. In that time she served on statewide citizen committees appointed by Governors Tom McCall and Bob Straub. Gold was heavily involved in community organizations and the Democratic Party.

HE WAS ELECTED to the Oregon Legislature in 1980, serving eight years in the House of Representatives from her southeast Portland district. Her fellow Democrats elected her House majority leader for two terms. She was elected to the Oregon Senate in 1988 and served eight years in that chamber. "My legislative sponsorship accomplished the first Oregon regulatory laws in the areas of domestic violence, managed health care, nuclear and solid waste disposal, hate crimes, pre-kindergarten, improved nursing home practices, and principles of fair taxation," Gold said.

In 1996 she ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress from the Third District, but lost to Earl Blumenauer.

Over the course of her career, Gold garnered many honors from a diverse list of organizations. This year she received a Lifetime Contribution Award from the Oregon Federation of Teachers, and an Outstanding Service Award from the Robison Jewish Home.

Earlier, she was honored with these awards: Outstanding Legislator from the Oregon School Employees Association; Hunter College Hall of Fame; Elected Official of the Year from the Council on Drug Abuse; Tax Justice Award from Oregon Fair Share; Mary Rieke Award from the Oregon Women's Political Caucus; plus special recognition from the Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Association for Young Children, Association for Retarded Citizens and Women's Rights Coalition.

GOLD SERVED as national vice chair of the Education Commission of the States, to which she'd been appointed by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

After leaving the Legislature, Gold was chief fundraiser for the "No on #31" campaign, noting that "#31 was a censorship measure on the November 1996 ballot. We defeated it -- a victory for free speech."

This summer she is teaching a course on education reform at Portland State University. "If that goes well, I'll be doing more teaching at PSU," she told the Northwest Labor Press.

Gold, whose late husband, Dave, also was an elementary school teacher, has two sons and four grandchildren.

WORKERS 'COMP' UPDATE: A recent column carried a report from the New York Times on a 35-year-old unsettled workers' compensation case. The national AFL-CIO Department of Occupational Safety and Health's Jim Ellenberg provided the following recap and update of the case in his Workers' Compensation Notes newsletter: "Many of you are familiar with the article that ran on the front page of the New York Times on May 5, 1997. The story written by David Cay Johnston, began with the following:

"As Bob Manning descended a utility pole near the St. Lawrence Seaway one cold February afternoon, a jolt of electricity sent him flying. The novice lineman, a young father with a pregnant wife, hit the pavement head first. Now Mr. Manning, paralyzed from the neck down, is trying to collect his workers' compensation benefits. He fell in 1962.

"THE TIMES CALLED this 'the longest-running workers' compensation dispute on record.' Mr. Manning's 'awards' from the NY Workers' Comp Board, including one for $1.2 million, were 'tied up in litigation.' Even the more than $2 million he incurred in hospital bills and medical care were ignored by the insurer and paid for by Medicare.

"Unfortunately, this effort by insurers and some employers to shift financial liabilities to some other payor -- usually the public -- is all too common. The Manning case, for the length of time and the amount of money involved, may be among the worst examples of insurer behavior but is simply a familiar one taken to the lowest level.

"The insurer (Utilities Mutual), whose action had been branded 'a disgrace' by New York Governor George Pataki, sent Mr. Manning a check for $1.2 million ten days after the story appeared. They then had the temerity to ask their trade association, the Alliance of American Insurers, to review all aspects surrounding their handling of the case 'to ensure that our workers' compensation claims system is working effectively for both claimants and providers.'

"Please, how about writing a check for $2 million to Medicare to reimburse the public for what properly should be a workers' compensation expense; how about paying a penalty or serving some jail time for frivolous delay and malingering on Mr. Manning's claim; how about asking an independent body, like the Consumer Federation of America, for a review of your behavior in this case?"

TV NEWS SHOWS, one being ABC's "20/20," have aired insurance company videos purporting to show injured workers performing physical chores that the insurer thinks is beyond the scope of the workers' limitations. But these same TV news shows fail to air any evidence of workers' compensation fraud by insurers and employers. Nor have they reported on what Jim Ellenberg called "frivolous delay and malingering" by the insurance company in the Manning case.

EXECUTIVE GREED: Another flagrant example of executive greed coupled with a loss of jobs for ordinary workers popped up in the recent buyout of Portland-based U.S. Bancorp by Minnesota's First Bank System.

U.S. Bancorp's chairman Gerry Cameron gets $12.41 million tax-free and two other executives pocket $7 million each in tax-free arrangements. But 2,000 U.S. Bancorp workers in the Portland area will lose their jobs, as will 2,000 others elsewhere when First Bank finishes digesting the U.S. Bank system.

WORKERS GET DOWNSIZED while bosses harvest millions is an outrageous economic scenario that keeps happening over and over again. It's predatory capitalism at its worst. Bosses get the gold, workers get the shaft. As Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr has pointed out: "Transforming the U.S. corporate economy from one that focuses only on profits for Wall Street and excessive pay packages for chief executive officers, to one that promotes jobs with justice for Main Street is our challenge for the 21st century."


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