Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

December 20, 2002

MACHINIST DAVID A. PLANT, 62, of Gresham, has been elected to Labor's Hall of Fame by the sponsoring Northwest Oregon Labor Retirees Council. The council, which is affiliated with the Portland-based Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO, established the Hall of Fame in 1997 to honor retired unionists for their contributions to their unions' members and to the rest of the labor movement. Plant retired in 2001 as directing business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24, which is based m Portland in the Machinists Hall at 3645 SE 32nd.

Plant held a variety of jobs in his career, starting out as a cannery worker in 1957 at Gresham Berry Growers while attending Gresham High School. In that job he was a member of the Teamsters. His next job was as a machine operator at Reed's Poultry Farm. After graduating from high school in 1958 he enrolled at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, but worked at summer jobs as a foundry helper at Pacific Chain Manufacturing and Macadam Aluminum & Bronze, both in Portland. In those jobs he belonged to Molders Local 139, a union in which his father, Albert K. Plant, was a member all of his working life.

"Dad never missed a union meeting," Dave said. Dave's parents were divorced and his father lived in Scappoose while Dave lived in Gresham with his mother and stepfather, Raymond Baker, a member of the Steelworkers who was employed at the Reynolds aluminum plant

PLANT GRADUATED from OSU in 1962 with a bachelor of science degree in physics. He then attended graduate school in general studies at OSU in 1962-63 and followed that with five years of history studies at the University of Oregon's graduate school in Eugene.

From 1961-68 Plant worked part-time as a chemistry laboratory technician at Oregon State, and from 1964-66 he also worked part-time as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Oregon. Holding assistant's jobs at both schools required much travel time. In his lab tech job at OSU Plant went to the Hood River Valley fruit orchards to take air samples to determine how much fluoride was dropping on the valley's pears, apples and other fruits from smokestack emissions at the Harvey Aluminum plant. As a result of Plant's research, Harvey installed scrubbers on its stacks to reduce toxic emissions.

Dave and his wife, JoAnn Danton, met while working in OSU's chemistry lab and married on March 19,1961. She later graduated from UO and went on to a career as a chemist at Morgan Chemical in Eugene.

DAVE'S GOAL in obtaining extensive education at OSU and UO was to become a teacher. But when he sought to enter that profession in 1968, the job market was bleak, so he took a job at Guilfoyle Construction in Eugene in 1968. Later that year he found employment at Ireco Industries Inc. in Eugene, where in a 10-year period he was a production worker, a precision assembler and a machinist. He joined Machinists Local Lodge 1311 of Eugene and soon became a shop steward. He quickly moved up to chief steward and in 1969 was elected recording secretary. He was elected union president in 1971.

AS PRESIDENT of IAM Local 1311 from 1971-80, Plant represented the union as a delegate to a number of organizations including the Lane County Labor Council and its Executive Board; IAM District Lodge 163, which later merged into District 24; Oregon Machinists Council, and conventions of the IAM Grand Lodge and the Oregon AFL-CIO. Also, he attended two IAM Leadership School sessions.

Later in his career he attended advanced IAM seminars and training sessions. He served on a Lane County Labor Council committee that came up with the idea of establishing the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon. LERC's enabling legislation was passed by the 1977 Oregon Legislature at Salem and signed into law by then-Governor Bob Straub. Plant was appointed to the first LERC Advisory Board and served until 2001. Straub also appointed Plant to "Speak Out, Oregon," a group the governor sent to Washington, D.C., to make recommendations on trade issues to federal officials.

Plant also was assigned in 1978 by IAM District Lodge 24 to lobby Congress on labor law reform legislation.

PLANT LEFT IRECO INDUSTRIES in 1978 for a union job as an assembly mechanic at Bell Industries in Eugene and continued as Local 1311's president until 1980 when he was appointed as the Eugene area business representative for Portland-based District Lodge 24. He was elected as president of the Oregon Machinists Non-Partisan Political League, and represented the Machinists as a delegate to the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Counties Central Labor Council in Albany, while continuing as a delegate to the Lane County Labor Council.

Because of financial problems caused by the Reagan Recession in 1982, the IAM was forced to lay off Plant and other staff members. The Oregon AFL-CIO appointed Plant to handle political organizing in Southern Oregon in the 1982 political cycle. Next, the Oregon Public Employees Union, Local 503 of the Service Employees, hired Plant as a business agent. He returned to District 24's staff by the end of 1984.

PUBLIC SERVICE POSTS held by Plant in the 1980s included memberships on the Lane Coalition to Save Jobs, the Lane County Community College's Vocational Advisory Committee, the Lane County Joint Trades and Apprenticeship Committee and the Eugene Private Industry Council's Advisory Board. Plant's political activity has included being a Democratic precinct committeeman in Lane County from 1976-92; delegate to Oregon Democratic Party conventions from 1980-86; and serving on the steering committee for the No on #92 and #98 campaign in 2000.

Trusteeships held by Plant include the Truck Operators League Health & Welfare Trust Fund from 1986-92, and the Northwest IAM Dental Benefit Trust Fund, 1992-2001. He served on the Portland-based Labor Community Service Agency's Board of Directors from 1992-2001.

PLANT'S LABOR POSTS included being president of the Oregon Machinists Council from 1987 to 2001; Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board member, 1992-2001; delegate to IAM Grand Lodge conventions in the 1980s and '90s and member of the Resolutions Committee in '96.

Plant was elected as District 24's directing business representative in 1992 after serving three years as the assistant DBR. In addition to negotiating contracts with employers and handling all his other duties as the District 24 leader, he was selected by international presidents to participate in joint missions with the IAM and the Boeing Aircraft Co. to China and Europe.

Boeing's Gresham plant is one of District 24's large employers. He was an IAM delegate to the 1994 International Metal Workers Aerospace Conference in Hamburg, Germany. He also carried out various assignments to important committees by IAM presidents.

DAVE AND JOANN built their home in Gresham on property bought from his mother, which is near the house where he lived while growing up. They have two sons, Darrel, 41, and Jonathan, 38, both of whom graduated from Reed College in Southeast Portland. Darrel operates his own computer graphics business in Portland and has written several books on the subject. Jonathan, who won an Oregon AFL-CIO college scholarship, is a veterinarian in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Dave still attends meetings of Machinists Local Lodge 63 at the hall on SE 32nd Ave. and did phone bank calling on behalf of lAM-backed political candidates in the primary election last May.


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