Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

September 1, 2000

DEAN KILLION, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO in the early 1970s, was honored last month by the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, which ushered him into its Labor Hall of Fame.

Killion, now 67, and his wife, the former Barbara Johnson, whom he married 37 years ago in Reno, Nev., have made their home in Bend in Oregon's warm months for the past four years. Like many other Beaver State "snow birds," they head south before the rain and snow start falling. Yuma, Ariz., is where they park their 40-foot motor home in the months of late fall, winter and early spring.

In January 1973, Killion, then a Woodworkers Region III education coordinator traversing eight states in the West from his base in Clackamas County's Gladstone, was picked by the Oregon AFL-CIO's Executive Board as the organization's new president. He succeeded Edward J. Whelan, who resigned to accept an appointment from Governor Tom McCall as Oregon's first director of economic development.

AT THE 1973 LEGISLATURE, Killion and his fellow leaders of the state labor federation chalked up perhaps the most productive lobbying session in history from the standpoint of enacting legislation to benefit working men and women and their families. Political and Legislative Director Lloyd Knudsen and Secretary-Treasurer Glenn (Pat) Randall were among Killion's fellow lobbyists for the Oregon AFL-CIO. Killion recalled for the NW Labor Press that the AFL-ClO's three elected leaders were ably assisted by Tom Scanlon, the labor federation's director of research and education; Jim Manley of the Industrial Union Council; federation intern Jim Baker; federation lawyer Dan O'Leary; building trades leader Earl Kirkland; Republican Governor McCall; Democratic State Treasurer Jim Redden; Democratic legislators Richard and Ralph Groener and Ed Lindquist; also Sue Pisha and Linda Rasmussen of the Portland Communications Workers.

Labor legislation passed in Salem by the 1973 Legislature included landmark collective bargaining rights for public employees; major improvements in unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and job health and safety standards; plus raising the state minimum wage to the federal level, and tax code changes benefitted working families.

IN THE 1975 SESSION, Killion noted that the Oregon AFL-CIO lobbied successfully for consumer protection legislation which dealt with vocational schools, debt consolidation firms and payment to home buyers of interest on their mortgage reserve accounts. Also, some tax reform was gained. Another important achievement at the 1975 session was that the lobbying groundwork was accomplished for enactment in the 1977 session of legislation creating the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center. Killion pointed out that labor's push for a labor college carried on the long tradition of the union movement's leading role in establishing a public school system in the United States, and in Oregon of creating a network of community colleges. Despite his lobbying success, Killion failed to win re-election at the 1975 convention of the Oregon AFL-CIO, and he then became a real estate salesman, an occupation from which he only recently retired.

KILLION WAS BORN May 3, 1933 at Poteau in eastern Oklahoma near the Arkansas border, and grew up in a coal mining family. His father died when he was eight. His stepfather worked in the mines for 50 cents an hour and put in 12 to 14 hours a day.

When Dean was 12 he walked a picket line with his stepdad. After the United Mine Workers organized the Oklahoma mines, Dean said his stepdad's pay doubled. "That made me a believer in unions," Dean recalled.

Following his U.S. Army service in Korea in the mid-1950s, Killion moved to Oregon, which he had visited earlier, and worked felling trees in a forest near Tillamook as a member of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). Later, he took a job in a Tillamook veneer plant, which led to becoming the business agent of IWA Local 3-427. From that job he moved to the IWA Region III staff.

IN THE YEARS after leaving the state AFL-CIO presidency, Killion combined real estate sales work with job assignments in the labor movement. These union jobs included working as a business agent for Portland-based Meat Cutters Local 143-A of the United Food and Commercial Workers; being a business agent for two IWA locals in his old stomping grounds of Tillamook; and negotiating three one-year contracts, along with attorney Darrell Cornelius, for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputies Association at Oregon City. Killion said the three contracts raised the monthly pay of the deputies from $700 up to $1,700.

Over the past nine years, Killion has suffered four heart attacks, the latest occurring earlier this summer.

Killion is a 32nd degree Masonic Lodge member; a 35-year member of the Elks Lodge at Tillamook; and he and his wife belong to the First Christian Church in Oregon City.

Dean and Barbara Killion have a daughter, Deena; two sons, Gary and Mark; and five grandchildren.

***

RICHARD (DICK) CHENEY, the sanctimonious Texas business boss picked by Texas Governor George W. Bush to be his running-mate in the Republican campaign for the White House, first had to fly back to his former state, Wyoming, to re-establish voting residency there because it is illegal for a political party's presidential and vice presidential candidates to be from the same state. Republican vice presidential hopeful Cheney's evasion of the law by reclaiming his former state drew no noticeable chiding from the media.

Cheney, a secretary of defense in Republican President George H. W. Bush's Administration, had been chief executive officer (CEO) of the Dallas-based Halliburton Company, a defense contractor, for less than five years before he stepped down to run with the junior Bush. Despite that short relationship, Halliburton still has arranged a royal send-off estimated at $20 million for Cheney.

Newspaper, wire service, radio and television network reporters should focus the same relentless attention on Republican Cheney's avoidance of wearing a military uniform in the Vietnam War era, as the media did in the 1992 presidential campaign on Democrat Bill Clinton's lack of military service. Critics of Cheney have noted that he received five draft deferments in pre-war and wartime years. What the media hasn't re-visited is that the Nebraska-born Cheney attended divinity school to obtain one of his deferments even though he had no intention of becoming a clergyman.

AS A REPUBLICAN congressman from Wyoming from 1979 to 1989, Cheney compiled a "stunningly bad" voting record "on working family issues," according to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said that Republican Cheney voted right only nine times out of 157 pieces of legislation on issues affecting workers.

Sweeney explained: "Cheney voted against expanding childhood immunization, Head Start, Buy America and prevailing wage provisions ... He voted for raising the Social Security retirement age and for Medicare cuts "

Although Cheney's firm, Halliburton, is a defense contractor, it also is one of the largest oil industry service companies, and it is a major construction contractor through its subsidiary, Brown & Root. Oregon building trades unions have fought economic battles with the notoriously anti-union Brown & Root. Oregon labor's rallying cry was: "Give the boot to Brown & Root!"

In the November general election, let's give the boot to Cheney and Bush.

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