Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

December 7, 2001

DORIS BUCK of Portland, a retired union leader in the egg and poultry industry, is the newest member of Labor's Hall of Fame. She was selected for the honor by the hall's sponsor, the Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council.

The council is affiliated with the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The retirees convene monthly in the NOLC's boardroom at 1125 SE Madison St., Portland.

When Mrs. Buck retired in 1983 she was secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local Ten-Eleven, based in Clackamas in the southern part of the Portland metropolitan area. Ten-Eleven was the product of a merger of several local unions, including Egg and Poultry Workers Local 231, whose members were employed in egg and poultry businesses throughout western Oregon; Butchers Local 656, whose members worked in Portland area packinghouses; and Meat Cutters Local 324 of Eugene and Salem, whose members worked in Willamette Valley supermarkets. Those locals had been part of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, a Chicago-based international union which in 1979 merged with the Retail Clerks International Association of Washington, D.C., and other internationals to form the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

IN 1985, LOCAL TEN-ELEVEN and other UFCW locals in Oregon and southwest Washington merged to establish Local 555, now a Tigard-based union that is the largest private sector local in the state. Before she retired, Mrs. Buck played an instrumental role in the preparations for the merger.

Mrs. Buck recorded a number of "firsts" in her 16-year career with Locals 231 and Ten-Eleven. She was the first woman leader of Egg Candlers and Poultry Workers Local 231, a union in which women workers were in the majority. She was the first woman to serve as a trustee of the Oregon Federation of Butchers Health and Welfare Fund, and the first woman trustee of the federation's pension plan. She was the first union leader from Oregon to serve on the International Advisory Board of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen Union; she was one of two women on that board. There she took part in the planning for the merger with the Retail Clerks, Barbers and other unions that formed the UFCW. Subsequently, still other unions joined the UFCW.

HER OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS included negotiating for Local 231 members the highest wage rates in the poultry industry in the United States, and bargaining the first pension plan for poultry workers nationally. In her years of representing nearly one thousand egg and poultry workers, her members were employed at Western Farmers on Swan Island in Portland, Fircrest in Creswell, Mutual at Corvallis, Bigger & Better at Gladstone, Norbest at Salem, Willamette Egg at Canby, Northwest Egg Sales in Portland and in Toledo, Wash., Carnation Farms in Silverton and the Western Farm Feed Mill in Madras.

Mrs. Buck said she had "two of the best office secretaries" in Mary Sullivan Jackson and Mary Deitz, who belonged to Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 11. Among her activities in the labor movement, Mrs. Buck was a delegate to the Multnomah County Labor Council in Portland and to conventions of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

IN TAKING OVER the leadership of Local 231 she moved into a job held earlier by her husband, Amos Buck, who died in 1966. A man was chosen to succeed him but he soon resigned and Mrs. Buck was asked to become secretary-treasurer on a temporary basis. She wound up staying at Local 231 and successor Local Ten-Eleven for 16 years.

UPON RETIRING, Mrs. Buck was presented with many plaques thanking her "for 16 years of dedication to the labor movement," "for outstanding leadership" in labor political activity, for her service as secretary of the Oregon Federation of Butchers and for her work on the federation's health and welfare and pension trust funds. Other plaques expressed appreciation for "many dedicated and unselfish years" with UFCW District Council 33 and with Local Ten-Eleven.

Now in her 80s, Mrs. Buck was born in Portland as Doris Ruhl, but at an early age moved with her parents to the Los Angeles area where she grew up and graduated from high school. Her parents later returned to Portland, as did she. After high school her first job was as a sales clerk at a Sears store in L.A. Later jobs included working in a doctor's office and in a poultry plant. She met her husband-to-be, Amos Buck, while employed in the bakery at a Portland Fred Meyer store where he was a meat cutter. She was a member of Food and Drug Clerks Local 1092 and he belonged to Meat Cutters Local 143. She also was a checker at Fred Meyer supermarkets and at a Tops All store. They later were employed in World War II shipyards in Portland and across the Columbia River in Vancouver as members of Asbestos Workers Local 36. Amos, who preferred to be called by his last name, also worked as a diver, performing underwater inspections on hulls of the wartime ships built in Vancouver.

THE EXCITEMENT of flying stirred Doris and Amos to take lessons at a private airport in southeast Portland. They both got pilot's licenses for flying Piper Cubs and often rented one of the small planes for short trips.

Bowling, golf and fishing are other sports Mrs. Buck enjoyed until a fall three years ago curtailed those activities. Her proudest catch as an angler was a 28 1/2-pound salmon hooked in the Pacific Ocean off the Clatsop County port of Warrenton.

Mrs. Buck still manages a mobile home park in southeast Portland, which she's owned for many years.

HER FAMILY consists of a son and his wife, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


GAIL ROSS, of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 in Tacoma, gave the following report in a letter to the editor of Labor Notes, a nationally-circulated journal of news and opinion published monthly in Detroit, Mich., by the Labor Education and Research Project:

"At our union meeting Sept. 13, I asked my union to join in helping our union brothers and sisters who were working day and night at Ground Zero. I asked them to labor one day on our West Coast docks in solidarity with the East Coast.

"WE VOTED TO SEND $5,000 immediately to the AFL-CIO's Union Community Fund to seed our fundraising project. Union members are pledging to give one day's wages for the fund by payroll deduction. So far we have raised over $16,000.

"My heart breaks every time I watch the news coverage. I only feel better knowing I can help those who have suffered and lost so much."


MALIK MIAH, of International Association of Machinists District 141-M in the San Francisco Bay Area, sent a long report to Labor Notes, from which the following excerpts are taken:

"I work as a mechanic at United Airlines' main maintenance base in San Francisco. United employs some 20,000 workers in the Bay Area as mechanics, baggage handlers, customer service agents, flight attendants. pilots, and others. Most are union members.

"United lost 18 employees on its two aircraft that crashed on Sept. 11. After the attacks, instead of working with employees and their unions, United's top management took steps to protect their own jobs and major shareholders. They quickly fired all employees on probationary status and announced that 20,000 out of 100,000 employees worldwide would be axed, after initially reducing flight schedules by 20 percent and then by 31 percent as of Nov. 1..."

"ALL EMPLOYEE GROUPS are affected. Union and non-union employees face an uncertain future as top management takes advantage of the Sept. 11 attacks and the economic recession to restructure the airline..."


MORE INFORMATION from Labor Notes follows:

"Six current and former Wal-Mart employees filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the nation's largest private employer. The suit contends that women are relegated to lower-paying jobs and are systematically denied advancement. Even though they are only 28 percent of the workforce, men hold 90 percent of Wal-Mart store manager positions. Women who are interested in joining the lawsuit may call 1-877-WOMAN-WM."


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