Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

September 15, 2000

JAMES WARREN GOODSELL of Twisp, Wash., who reached the 80-year-mark earlier this year, has entered Labor's Hall of Fame in recognition of his achievements as editor and manager of the Labor Press from 1951 to 1965. The Hall's sponsor, the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council, accorded Goodsell the honor at its monthly meeting in the board room of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO, at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland.

When Goodsell succeeded Gene Allen as editor in 1951, this labor-owned newspaper bore the nameplate of Oregon Labor Press. Thirty-five years later, because of its expanded scope, the paper's name was changed to Northwest Labor Press.

Goodsell was the first Democrat to edit the Labor Press in nearly 40 years. His two predecessors were Republicans, as were numerous leaders of labor organizations of those earlier years. He came to the union-owned paper from a job as executive secretary of the Oregon Democratic Party, where he had played a major role in gaining for the Democrats their first registration majority in the Beaver State. Before that, he'd worked as a newspaper and radio station reporter in Astoria on the northern Oregon coast, and as a reporter for the Oregonian.

GOODSELL MODERNIZED the typography and page make-up of the Labor Press and instilled an idealistic tone in its editorials. "In those years I had a strong streak of the crusader in me," he commented for the paper's silver anniversary issue in 1975. "This made the job all the more rewarding. In the Labor Press I could do battle for causes I believed in. Usually these were causes espoused by the labor movement, but I was allowed a truly remarkable degree of freedom of personal judgment and expression throughout my years as editor."

He also said in 1975 that his years of editing the Labor Press in Room 100 of the old Labor Temple on Southwest Fourth Avenue between Columbia and Jefferson Streets were years of "crusades and crises, victories and defeats, dramas and farces, laughs and tears."

The causes championed by Goodsell included public power and a high federal dam at Hells Canyon; national health insurance; better job opportunities for minorities including more openings in the apprenticeable trades; innovative approaches to organizing white collar workers and professionals; and higher pay for state legislators. He criticized the practice of holding mid-winter labor meetings in Miami Beach while workers were shivering up north, labeling it "Miami stupidity."

MANY AWARDS for excellence were won by the Goodsell-edited Labor Press in journalistic competition sponsored by the International Labor Press Association (ILPA) of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and the Canadian Labour Congress. The plaques and framed certificates filled the walls of the paper's office in the Labor Temple.

One of the awards was for the Labor Press's coverage of the strike against the Oregonian and Oregon Journal from November 1959 until April 1965. Goodsell printed hundreds of thousands of copies of special editions explaining the issues in the strike. Strikers from the newspaper unions distributed the special editions door-to-door.

These special editions were part of the strike committee's multi-phased campaign that resulted in tens of thousands of readers cancelling their subscriptions to the scab-produced Oregonian and Journal.

Goodsell was active on a number of professional and civic fronts in his Labor Press years. He was a vice president of ILPA; served as an executive board member of the Portland City Club, Urban League and American Civil Liberties Union. He was a decision-maker on the Portland Dock Commission by appointment of Mayor Terry Schrunk, and participated in researching and writing the Portland School District's trail-blazing report on race and education. For recreation, he scaled every major mountain in Oregon and Washington.

GOODSELL ENJOYS WRITING and wielding an editor's pencil. In his student years he edited the Cardinal newspaper at Portland's old Lincoln High School, which is now a building at Portland State University, and he edited the campus literary magazine at Columbia University in New York City, to which he won a scholarship. After leaving the Labor Press, he edited several yearbooks for the Mazamas, a mountain climbing organization. In retirement, he's edited publications for Twisp schools and community groups.

Born in Madison, Wisc., Goodsell lived for a time in Colorado Springs when his father, a Methodist minister, held a pulpit there, and came to Portland when his father accepted a post here. Jim worked on the assembly line of an aircraft manufacturing plant in the Los Angeles area before serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II in the India and China war zones. He married Jane Neuberger in 1942, and they were divorced in 1973.

Goodsell left the Labor Press in 1965 to become director of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Portland office. In a 17-year federal career, his travels for the department's Bureau of International Commerce took him all over world. In his last overseas assignment, he was the director of the United States International Marketing Center for Southern Europe at Milan, Italy. After his wife, Dorothy (Dee), lost her sight, Goodsell accepted a Commerce Dept. post in Cleveland so that she could undergo medical treatment in the Ohio city. He retired in 1982 and they moved to Twisp, in Washington's Methow Valley south of the Canadian border. They had earlier bought property there. Jim and Dee met in the Mazamas and they've done some hiking together on the lower levels of mountains near Twisp.

IN TWISP, Jim and Dee have been active in a citizens' organization dedicated to preserving the rural character of the Methow Valley and also in a music appreciation group. Earlier this year, Jim managed the political campaign of the town's new mayor, who won by five votes out of 487 cast. Their daughters and sons from previous marriages, their grandchildren and other relatives occasionally make treks to remote Twisp for family visits.


THE NEW YORK-OWNED Portland Oregonian newspaper, hereafter referred to as the Onian (pronounced onion), pats itself on the back for its coverage of local news. Isn't that what newspapers are supposed to do - cover the news? Nonetheless, the Newhouse chain paper engages in self-congratulations for just reporting what's going on in Portland.

However, there is some news the non-union and anti-union Onian doesn't think is important enough to cover. One recent example was Labor Day. On Labor Day last week, several labor organizations within the morning Newhouse's circulation area sponsored picnics with brief talks by important people. But the women and men who wear the titles of editors at the Onian did not think those Labor Day celebrations were worth covering. However, television stations did provide coverage.

The Portland area picnic, sponsored by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council at Oaks Amusement Park, drew an estimated 15,000 people and had as its main speaker the second-ranking officer of the national AFL-CIO, Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. But the so-called editors of the Onian did not think an event attended by 15,000 men, women and children and featuring Trumka merited sending out a reporter and a photographer. The next morning's editions had plenty of room for a story and photo of a Labor Day celebration because about a page and a half of space was taken up by "house ads" in which the newspaper promoted itself.

THE ONIAN'S DISDAIN for Labor Day celebrations in the year 2000 fits right in with its sneering criticism in 1887 when a Labor Day holiday was designated by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law by Governor Sylvester Pennoyer.


Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.