Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

August 18, 2000

JOHN JOSEPH O'HALLORAN, a retired leader of Portland Iron Workers Local 29, died of spinal cancer on July 31 at the age of 77.

At his death, O'Halloran was serving as president of the Local 29 Retirees Club and as vice president of the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, AFL-CIO. He had been instrumental in the formation of both organizations.

He had enrolled in the Iron Workers Local 29 apprenticeship program shortly after graduating from suburban Tigard High School in 1940, and returned to the trade following a year at Oregon State College upon finishing his World War II service in the U.S. Navy.

HE TOOK PRIDE in having built more than a dozen bridges during his career, including the Tacoma Narrows span in the Puget Sound area, the Interstate, Morrison and Fremont bridges in Portland, and others. He improved the structural integrity of bridges he worked on by recommending design and engineering changes based on his long experience as a union bridgeman. In traveling across the magnificent Fremont Bridge high over the Willamette River, O'Halloran's grandchildren and great-grandchildren call it "Poppy's Bridge," referring to their bridge-building grandfather and great-grandfather.

He was elected to Local 29's Executive Board in 1952 and seven years later became the union's business agent and financial secretary, a post he held until 1969. He played a major role in winning important gains for Iron Workers Union members in Oregon and Washington in a 1962 construction-shutdown strike that was settled in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of President John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg. The groundbreaking labor agreement between the three Pacific Northwest structural iron locals and the Associated General Contractors established first-ever pension benefits, merged the three locals' health and welfare plans and instituted identical contract terms on wages and working conditions.

O'HALLORAN PLAYED an influential role in labor organizations to which he was a delegate, including the Portland area labor council and building trades council, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, Iron Workers International conventions, and other groups, one of which was the non-profit Oregon Labor Press Publishing Company. He was a delegate to the the landmark 1956 joint convention in Portland that merged the Oregon state councils of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, resulting in the formation of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Considered an expert on the complexities of health and welfare and pension trust funds, O'Halloran was elected to the board of directors of an international foundation for labor and management trustees of jointly-administered health insurance plans and pension funds, and he served for many years as a Local 29 trustee of negotiated benefit plans covering its members and those of other Iron Worker locals. He retired from his trade in 1981 shortly after being hit by a l0-foot-long four-by-six that fell two stories on a downtown Portland hotel construction project and struck him while he was bending over on the ground.

O'HALLORAN WAS BORN in Portland on Oct. 16, 1922, the second oldest of six sons and two daughters born to Irish immigrant parents. He grew up in suburban Tigard where he starred in three sports at Tigard High School. He was a guard on the basketball team, a quarterback on the football team, a catcher on the baseball team. Abe Saperstein of New York City, founder of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, admired O'Halloran's ball-handling and shooting in a high school basketball game in Portland and remembered him upon seeing him play a few years later on a Navy team in California. But Saperstein didn't offer O'Halloran a contract to play for the internationally-known Globetrotters.

FOLLOWING HIS post-war year at Oregon State in Corvallis, O'Halloran and Shirley Van Vranken were married in Portland in 1947. An operatic soprano, she had her own radio program on KGW. O'Halloran had said his wife endowed her musical talent on their four sons and three daughters, who are blessed with singing and instrumental skills.

His survivors include his wife, Shirley, of Tigard; sons John and Timothy of Portland, Matthew of Providence, R.I., and Rory of The Dalles; daughters Frances and Kathryn of Portland, and Patricia of Tigard; sisters Helen Warner of Ridgefield, Wash., and Mary Stephens of Beaverton; brothers Thomas of Tigard, Dennis of Portland, and Larry of Beaverton; plus 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

AT HIS FUNERAL on Aug. 4, O'Halloran was praised by family members for his "courage, integrity, kindness and sense of justice." The funeral mass was officiated by the Reverend Les Sieg at a full St. Anthony Catholic Church in Tigard, which the O'Halloran family has attended since the late 1920s. A son, Rory, played the bagpipes at the service. Burial was in the church's cemetery.

Contributions in John O'Halloran's memory can be sent to St. Anthony's Catholic School Fund, 12645 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard, OR 97223.

Among those at the funeral was Lloyd Knudsen, a retired member of Electrical Workers Local 48, who played end on O'Halloran-quarterbacked Tigard High football teams and caught touchdown passes from John.


EVER WONDER WHY people who got rich in Oregon moved across the Columbia River to Washington?

The Portland-published Business Journal provided the answer to that question recently in an article carrying the byline of Robert Goldfield, one of the tabloid-sized newspaper's staff writers. "...Because of its differing tax structures, the state of Washington is far more friendly to wealthy residents than is the state of Oregon," the article said.

It continued: "For the average person, your tax burden is higher if you live in Washington and work in Oregon,' said Scott Remington, a senior tax manager at the Portland office of accounting firm Grant Thornton. But 'for a person with a lot of portfolio activity,' the opposite is probably true.

"THAT'S PRIMARILY because Oregon imposes an income tax and Washington doesn't, said Remington, who himself lives in Vancouver and commutes to work in Oregon. Dividends, interest and capital gains realized while living in Oregon get taxed by the state, while those realized while living in Washington aren't taxed by the state.

"True, Washington imposes a sales tax, but that affects the average person and the wealthy person fairly equally. And property taxes in Washington have about caught up with those in Oregon. The critical difference is the state income tax.

"A recent article by Bloomberg Personal Finance magazine highlighted differences across the country. The monthly publication ranked Washington as the third most 'wealth- friendly' state in the nation, giving it an overall grade of A. Oregon ranked among the least wealth-friendly, earning a grade of D+."

The Business Journal article, quoting Bloomberg, went on to report that Montana gets "an F for the way it grabs money from its most well-heeled citizens. Wyoming, however, led the list of the wealth-friendly, getting the only A+."


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